Tough schedule for NMI 3×3 team

The CNMI men’s 3×3 basketball and athletics teams pose for a group photo before leaving Saipan yesterday to compete in the 10th Pacific Mini Games in Port Vila, Vanuatu. (Contributed Photo)

The CNMI’s 3×3 men’s basketball team will be put into an early test in the 11th Pacific Mini Games when competitions begin on Dec. 11 at the Korman Stadium’s Indoor Hall 2 in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

Team CNMI will face early gold medal favorite Fiji for its first game at 12pm on Dec. 11 then will take on another powerhouse squad in Papua New Guinea at 2pm before closing out the day against American Samoa. The team, which is composed of Dan Barcinas, Preston Basa, Jack Lizama, and Douglas Schmidt, will go up against Nauru, hosts Vanuatu, and Samoa in Day 2 before closing out its campaign against the Cook Islands and the Solomon Islands. The nine countries competing in the men’s 3×3 basketball will play in a single elimination round from Dec. 11 to 13, while the finals is set on Dec. 14. The format in the medal round has yet to be announced.

The four basketball players left for Vanuatu yesterday, traveling together with the three-member CNMI athletics squad composed of Beo Ngirchongor, Zarinae Sapong, and Jamie Pangelinan, and coaches Ron Olopai and Elias Rangamar—who is also the 3×3 team’s manager.

Rangamar said getting a win against any of the powerhouse teams—Fiji, PNG, and American Samoa—would definitely boost Team CNMI’s confidence in their hopes of going further in the tournament.

“At least beat one or two of the top teams to give us a better chance of going into the next round. It will be tough and we’re going to squeeze in some practice sessions in our layovers before we reach Port Vila,” Rangamar told Saipan Tribune before boarding a Cape Air flight to Guam with the 3×3 men’s basketball and athletics teams.

“We’ll see what these guys have when we reach Vanuatu. They’ve been working hard for this tournament and hopefully we could at least advance in the next round. From there, we’ll see what happens next,” he added.

From Saipan, the second batch of the CNMI delegation, was set to arrive yesterday evening in Guam where they will be taking a connecting flight to Manila. The Commonwealth’s athletes and officials will then board a plane to Australia on Saturday and from Sydney, they will take a flight to Vanuatu where they are expected to arrive this Sunday.

Meanwhile, athletics competition will be held from Dec. 11 to 14 with Ngirchongor competing in the men’s 200m and 400m runs and Sapong and Pangelinan joining the women’s 100m and 200m races.

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Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez has been covering local and international sports events for more than 15 years. His sports writing career started when he joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, when he was in college.

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