Rollers Basketball Association is starting them young with the addition of a new 8-and-under age group.
RBA head coach Joe Diaz said they initially wanted to established an 8U division last January but the lack of coaches stymied their plans.
“Our coaches David Apatang Jr. and Mike Mercado and I had a meeting last January about setting up an 8U age group. But at that time we did not have enough coaches so we had to cancel the [establishment] of a new division,” he said.
RBA had another meeting recently and after a head count of new coaches coming out of their pipeline from the older age group divisions, Diaz and company decided that it was finally the opportune time to setup the 8U division.
“Coach David called me one time and asked if we can open back the 8U division. I said ‘sure but do we have enough coaches?’ He said we can ask the older boys to help us as assistant coaches so I again called for a coaches meeting. It turned a lot of our older players volunteered to coach the new age group that’s how it came about,” he said.
The newly established RBA 8U age group will have Matt Iguel as head coach with Chioni Dela Cruz, Ervin Villarin, T.J. Factor, Kyu Aldan, and Leo Naraja serving as assistant coaches.
“What made us do this is I saw Guam have an 8U developmental program for their young players. They did that so they can develop the future of their national basketball program and I want RBA to follow that,” said Diaz.
Iguel thus joins the ranks of RBA’s head coaches, which already include Apatang for 12U and Mercado for 1U4. Diaz coaches the 16U and 18U divisions.
As of now, the 8U age group has 14 players compared to the 14U division and 12U division which have 24 and 22 players, respectively.
“That’s not including our girls 16U and 18U teams. We want to start them young so in that age we would be able teach basic basketball level drills,” said Diaz.
The 8U division under Iguel and his platoon of assistant coaches will be tasked to develop the CNMI’s future generation of national players the rudiments of proper footwork (pivoting, jump stop, jab step, drop step, zero step, and stride stop, etc.), proper shooting form, and dribbling skills.
Following the formation of the 8U division, RBA installed 8-foot portable basketball rims for them to train on in RBA’s homecourt at the Koblerville Basketball Gymnasium.
“The portable rims will help out our young kids with their shooting form because normally the height of a basketball rim for 8U is 8-foot high and a 10-foot rim is just too high and they are really having a hard time with that,” said the RBA head coach.
Diaz thanked the RBA board and its officers for purchasing the new 8-foot basketball rims for their newest age group. The RBA officers are led by president Juan T. Dela Cruz, vice president Norris Kwon, secretary Vern Babauta, and treasurer Fausia Dela Cruz.