Expecting to receive stiff competition from Guam, Palau, the Marshall Islands, Chuuk, Kosrae, Yap, and Pohnpei in the 2006 Micronesian Games, the CNMI basketball program started its tryouts in hopes of assembling a strong cast of players that will carry the CNMI flag during its hosting of the quadrennial event starting this June.
The first session, however, did not fare well in terms of attendance as only 12 players showed up for the tryouts.
“I’m disappointed with the numbers, especially since we are hosting the Games,” Aguon said. “In the Budweiser Cup, we had about eight teams…so for the tryouts, I was expecting at least 20 to 30 players.”
At the same time, Aguon explained that he was happy the 12 players who took part in the session were enthusiastic about making the team.
“Unfortunately, my job is to pick the best of the best, evaluate skills and fitness, and then take the top players,” he said. “Come out…you might be able to play [in Micro Games] but to play in that level, you have to be mentally and physically sound.”
Aguon reiterated that he has no intention to duplicate the CNMI men’s cage team’s performance in the 2002 Games in Pohnpei, where the CNMI was only able to beat Chuuk.
“I don’t want a repeat of Pohnpei,” he said. “This is home and we can make adjustments to make sure we have a very competitive team. Skill level wise, we’re par with everybody in the region, but it’s the dedication and the commitment that we lack.”
With that, Aguon again extended an invitation to all basketball players to take part in the tryouts, which will next be held on Tuesday at 6:30pm. No session will be held today as the NMC Gym will be closed.
Meanwhile, Aguon said the team to be assembled will most likely play man-to-man defense and motion offense.
“That’s what we’re going to play majority of the time because of our size,” he said. To play that, we have to be physically fit and need to excellent on the fitness test. The players need to gel as a team and trust each other…it don’t matter who scores the most because we’re playing a motion offense and that’s to get the ball to the open man. I would say we’ll play motion offense 90 percent of the time.”
The former president of the Basketball Association of the Northern Mariana Islands had earlier said that the training for the Micro Games would start early next month with twice-a-week strength, plyometric, and conditioning exercises. It would then increase to thrice-a-week sessions with more concentration on conditioning in March.
By April, the schedule would be four times a week with more on-court team plays—both on offense and defense—and more intensity on conditioning. In May, training for the national team will be up to five days a week, and Aguon hopes they we could also scrimmage with other competitive teams.
Interested players must pass three eligibility requirements put up by BANMI, which is a player must have played in a BANMI-sanctioned league; must have lived continuously in the CNMI for seven years if not of CNMI decent; and if of Micronesian decent, must have lived in the CNMI for three straights years.