CNMI, Guam may join forces for Battle of the Pacific

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The CNMI Sharks and Team Guam players and officials pose for a photo after their game in the 2019 Marianas Bowl last Saturday at the CPA Airport Field. (Kimberly A. Bautista)

The football teams of Guam and the CNMI have been discussing combining the two groups to create a Marianas squad that would represent the region to the Battle of the Pacific.

According to the CNMI Sharks coach John Blanco, he and Team Guam’s Joey Guerrero have been talking about the the possibility of bringing the two groups together for a stronger, much bigger Marianas team.

“We do have a game in the Philippines so I was talking with coach Joey Guerrero and we were discussing about collaborating and having a team Marianas, instead of just a CNMI Team,” he said.

Blanco said that idea was brought up because the CNMI Sharks are at a disadvantage when competing in off-island tournaments because they only have 18 players, while normally, other squads have 45.

Blanco added that since the CNMI and Guam teams are so tight-knit, it would be better to have one strong Marianas team competing against other regions in the Pacific.

“A lot of times, when we’re going off island, we’re traveling at a disadvantage because we only have 18 players and we’re facing a full squad. We’re thinking about pulling our resources together and at the same time, it’s a great thing to have a combined Marianas team because we’re a brotherhood here,” he said.

Because this would be the first time that Guam and Saipan football teams will work together to represent the Marianas, Blanco said the challenge would be learning each other’s defensive and offensive techniques.

“I don’t think that’s (combining CNMI and Guam players) really happened much in our history, so it’s something nice to do. Some of the things we have to go over are what kind of offensive schemes we’re going to run, what defense schemes we’re going to push. A lot of the times, the guys are really professional, so we know how to go along with each other’s offense and defense, so it shouldn’t be a really hard thing to do,” he said.

Meanwhile, Guerrero said that the importance of this collaboration is keeping football alive in the Marianas for the generations to come and honoring the brotherhood between the two islands.

The Battle of the Pacific is set for Feb. 29 next year and the combined CNMI-Guam players will go up against a champion team from the Philippines.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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