The Marianas Island Basketball Federation is pushing for the growth of 3×3 basketball in the Commonwealth as it tries to take advantage of the sports increasing popularity in the region.
Vanuatu hosted the 10th edition of the Pacific Mini Games last month where 3×3 basketball made its debut. Samoa won the gold after a 17-7 crushing of the Solomon Islands, while Papua New Guinea settled for the bronze after prevailing against Fiji, 20-15.
Team CNMI—composed of Dan Barcinas, Preston Basa, Jack Lizama, and Douglas Schmidt—finished at sixth place in the 10-team tournament with a 3-5 record, scoring wins over host Vanuatu (16-8), American Samoa (20-13), and Nauru (17-15). The squad suffered losses against PNG, 18-7; eventual champion Samoa, 21-12; and silver medalist Solomon Islands, 9-2. Team CNMI also had close setbacks against Fiji, 20-16 and the Cook Islands, 16-12.
The Commonwealth’s experience in the Mini Games is one reasons MIBF development officer Elias Rangamar is counting on Basa to help him improve the association’s 3×3 grassroots program.
“Preston will be the lead person for this since he was the one who earned the [International Basketball Federation] certification,” Rangamar said.
The MIBF official added that 3×3 basketball is a good training ground for young players.
“It’s a great development for young kids who are just starting to learn basketball since all the players get to touch the ball in 3×3 games. Aside from learning the basic skills of basketball like dribbling and shooting, kids can also learn how to play defense and properly give screens so that the one who has the ball or the shooter can have open looks at the basket,” he said.
Rangamar believed the CNMI still has a lot of things to do 3×3 basketball if it wants to go toe-to-toe against the top teams in the region.
“It is still a big challenge for us. We should look into ways on how to develop the kids. Height remains an advantage in 3×3 basketball. That’s why we need to develop the shooting skills of our players to draw the defense away from the middle. Hopefully, we could improve their outside shooting skills.”