They maybe newcomers in the 2019 Pacific Games, but the CNMI National Badminton Team players are no pushovers.
“We are driven. Despite not having any kind of professional coaching, our team is really keen on not only winning but wanting to grow and get better,” said team captain Nate Guerrero.
Joining Guerrero on the squad are siblings Janelle and Jordan Pangilinan, brothers Ezekiel and Daniel Macario, Nicole Malasarte, and Andreau Galvez.
“Everyone of us puts in our two cents and help each other out whether it be learning new things or looking out and trying to fix our mistakes. We really want to medal, we most definitely want to get gold but any medal will suffice, as this is only our first regional tournament. The game plan out there is simple—win and have fun. And like what I told the team, we’re either going to win or learn,” Guerrero said.
The CNMI bets will have their debut against Tahiti on July 8 and though they are facing the No. 1 seed for their first game, Guerrero believes the team is up for the challenge.
“I wouldn’t say we’re too worried if we face them first or whenever because we’re eventually going to face them anyways. When approaching any game, we would always want to be the first on the attack and be the ones to set the tempo. If we play the way I know we can play, we’ll have pretty good results,” the team captain added.
Tahiti will be led by France-based Remi Rossi and is handled by a Chinese coach.
Besides Tahiti, the CNMI will also go up against host Samoa, Fiji, New Caledoia, Kiribati, and Tonga in the mixed team event, which will feature men’s and women’s singles and doubles, and mixed doubles. The badminton competition will run until July 13 with the seven countries also playing in separate men’s and women’s singles and doubles and mixed doubles events.
Since they are competing in the first week of the Pacific Games, Guerrero and company will leave Saipan next week, giving the squad with only four days to put the finishing touches on their preparations for the tournament.
“The team is doing pretty well in training. Once June started, we had to make a little bit of sacrifice with our time so we could practice a lot more. The focus right now is just to make sure we try to minimize mistakes and get our footwork and our placements right,” Guerrero said.
He added that they been working out with Macoi Aguda, who has competed in various Northern Marianas Badminton Association-sanctioned tournaments and played against the members of the CNMI team.
“He is helping us with some drills and placement drills. He’s doing a great job and we are fortunate to have him help us,” Guerrero said.
Team CNMI sendoff today
Meanwhile, a send-off ceremony for Team CNMI will be held this afternoon at 5:30pm at Kanoa Resort.
Badminton, tennis, golf, va’a, athletics, swimming, and beach volleyball athletes and officials will meet with their well-wishers before they head to Apia next week for the Pacific Games that will run from July 7 to 20.