Mariana Islands Basketball Federation will be fielding a men’s team in the 3×3 competition in the 2017 Pacific Mini Games that will be held in Vanuatu this December.
MIBF official Elias Rangamar, in an interview with Saipan Tribune yesterday, made the announcement after being informed by Northern Marianas Sports Association president Michael White on the inclusion of the 3×3 in the calendar of events for the Mini Games that will run from Dec. 2 to 15 in Port Vila.
“Players won’t be selected. Instead we will hold a qualifying tournament and the team that wins the competition will represent the CNMI,” Rangamar said.
The qualifier is an open tournament, however interested players must meet the eligibility requirements of the Mini Games. Only citizens of the country they are representing are allowed to participate in the quadrennial meet. Each team must have four players and a coach and monetary assistance will be provided by NMSA for the squad’s trip to Vanuatu.
“For now, we will only have a qualifier for the men’s teams because we don’t have enough female players at this time. We are also hoping to have adult players represent the CNMI because we anticipate a tough competition in Vanuatu,” Rangamar said.
The qualifying tournament will be held in August as the CNMI has only until October to submit the names of its delegates to the Mini Games. Rangamar added that they are looking to hold the qualifier on a weekend, so interested Tinian and Rota teams could also come over and battle Saipan squads. MIBF is still looking for a venue, preferably an outdoor court since that’s where 3×3 games are played.
So far, 10 countries have confirmed their participation in the 3×3 competition in Vanuatu, according to Clint Food, chief executive officer of the organizing Van2017. Last week, Food informed the Pacific Games Association-member countries that 3×3 basketball will be the 14th event to be contested in the Mini Games. The addition was made after Van2017 was approached by FIBA Oceania and with the minimal cost of the hosting of the 3×3, organizers obliged and will run the competition from Dec. 11 to 15.
With MIBF sending a team to the 3×3 tournament, the Commonwealth will now have entries in three sports. The CNMI will also join the athletics and golf events.