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Guam are excited and on the rise says head coach EJ Calvo
Hagåtña (Guam) - Excited. On the rise. Ready to shock the world.
Those are the three phrases that Edward J. Calvo uses to describe the current state of Guam basketball. As the head coach of the Guam men’s national basketball team and president of the Guam Basketball Confederation (GBC), Calvo has every right to feel enthusiastic and optimistic about the future of the nation’s basketball program. After a successful run at the FIBA Asia Cup Eastern Region Pre-Qualifiers in 2018, he and country are ready for more this year.
"The island is proud of us and people are excited to see us back on the court soon!" Calvo says.
Playing for the first time in FIBA Asia competition, Guam ran through the competition in the Eastern Region Pre-Qualifiers with 6 straight double-digit wins. The opposing teams just had no answer for the likes of Tai Wesley, Earnest Ross, and Curtis Washington, a trio which Guam hopes to trot out once again at the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers later this year.
"[Playing in the Qualifiers] will make sports history for Guam to host a sports event of this level," says Calvo."Our national basketball program has been successful in our region for generations, and we’re happy to finally compete against some of the best teams in the world. With under 200,000 residents in Guam, we are working hard to face nations with much greater populations & funding."
"I believe these games will unify our people in support and pride for our island more than ever!"
Guam was competitive in FIBA Oceania play, even against the likes of powerhouses Australia and New Zealand. Now they will be facing among the best in Asia, ready to showcase the tough brand of basketball that has been cultivated for years. Coach Calvo, who was recruited to coach the team since 2012, handles a team filled with nitty and gritty players that compete with intensity and passion that is difficult to compare. A majority of the players end up playing overseas both collegiately and professionally, but the Guam way to play is common among all of them.
"My basketball philosophy is centered around toughness. It’s how we learn to play ball growing up in Guam," Calvo expresses.
Though the spotlight shines on the aforementioned stars of Wesley, Ross, and Washington, but Guam is hardly a top-heavy team. Coach Calvo is not afraid to reach a little deeper down his rotation and continuously gets big games from players outside of his “Big 3” like speedster Daren Hechanova and sharpshooter JP Cruz.
"As a coach, I try to bring the best out of each player and promote a winning culture. As President of our National Federation, I try to think big and develop future leaders," says Calvo.
This is merely just the beginning for Guam basketball, even after their generations of success in the Oceania region. With more exposure, the national team program will be able to maximize the potential of the talent pool to build on a strong foundation they currently have. Calvo and the Federation have been active in arranging youth camps and coaching clinics and additional success on a bigger stage like the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers could help push things further at an accelerated pace.
"My inspiration is our future generation in Guam. I’m excited that there are more opportunities for our athletes today than in the past and excited to see things get better in the near future!"