NMI hoops teams face challenges ahead

Posted on Jan 21 2022


Players and officials of the NMI Senior National Men’s Basketball Team Program, top photo, wear the practice uniform donated by Pacific Amusement, Inc., during a team meeting early this month at the Oleai Sports Complex, while the women’s crew has the training uniform donated by the Tan Siu Lin Foundation. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS)0

Players in the NMI Senior National Basketball Team Program are back on the grind and will have to push themselves harder in training sessions as the inaugural FIBA Micronesian Cup has been scheduled to take place in June this year in Guam.

FIBA Oceania has announced early this week that the FIBA Micronesian Cup will be held from June 8 to 15, instead of the initial plan of late this year. The FIBA Micronesian Cup will be used as qualifier for the 2023 Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands after the 2022 Micronesian Games set for the Marshall Islands has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Palau, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, and the Federated States of Micronesia will join Guam and the NMI in the FIBA Micronesian Cup that now sits alongside the FIBA Melanesia Cup and FIBA Polynesia Cup in the competition pathway for Oceania nations.

“The program has resumed last week after the holiday break and we are on Phase 3. At this stage, we are seeking full commitment from our men’s and women’s players, as we have just about six months before the FIBA Micronesian Cup,” said Northern Mariana Islands Basketball Federation president James Lee, who met with the men’s and women’s pools and the coaching staff led by head coach Joe Diaz early this month.

Phase 3 will cover training sessions three times a week and will run until March 31. By April until the June, NMI players will train six times a week on and off the court.

“This will be a very big challenge to our players and us, coaches because we are pressed for time. But this is also the time to test our commitment to the program and to show our willingness to go out there and represent the NMI well. We have to keep pushing each other hard to be at our best possible form and get ready come game time,” Diaz said.

Besides their regular training sessions, the NMI players are also planning to compete in a tournament in Guam in April to gauge the teams’ preparations for the Micro Cup. Fundraising efforts have also started with players reaching out to families and friends to help defray the costs of the Guam trip.

“At this early, we would like to thank those who have pledged to support our players. The NMIBF understands the challenges of bringing our teams to Guam to prepare for the Micro Cup, but with our collective efforts, we can find ways to realize this plan and give our players the opportunity to finally compete off-island,” Lee said.

Thanks to Pacific Amusement, TSL Foundation

Meanwhile, the NMI Senior National Basketball Team Program players are utilizing two practice uniforms for their training sessions, thanks to Pacific Amusement, Inc. and the Tan Siu Lin Foundation.

Pacific Amusement has donated 40 reversible uniform, while the TSL Foundation provided 40.

“These uniforms are important to us, especially when we do team drills and play scrimmages. Thank you very much to Pacific Amusement, Inc. and the Tan Siu Lin Foundation,” Diaz said.

Besides donating practice uniforms, the TSL Foundation has also allowed the men’s and women’s pool to train at the TSL Sports Complex. (PR)

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