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Manila coach hopes to help Fiji qualify for 2019 Pacific Games

PAPUA NEW GUINEA (FIBA Melanesia Basketball Cup 2017) - Following tonight's loss to Papua New Guinea, Fiji will play the Solomon Islands in the FIBA Melanesia Basketball Cup 2017 third-place match.

With a 2019 Pacific Games spot on the line, Fiji will rely on experience and leadership to gain the win and the qualification spot.

Thomas Acosta is the newest addition to Basketball Fiji’s coaching team, he will bring much of this experience after a lifetime of basketball experience to the national men’s side.

Acosta joined the team for the first time in this event as Manager and Assistant Coach and has made some early observations of basketball in the Philippines versus basketball in Fiji.

“In the Philippines, everyone plays basketball. As a child it is your chosen ‘default’ sport, you eat, breathe and sleep basketball. In Fiji, it’s very different,” he said.

“If people are playing basketball in Fiji it’s because they have a deep love for the sport.”

“They could be out with their friends playing rugby at just about every grassed area in Fiji, instead, they are hitting the court with a few friends who share the same passion for the sport as they do - that’s something pretty special.”

While living in Fiji, Acosta has spent his spare time understanding how basketball is engrained in Fijian life by volunteering in local schools.

“I’ve embedded myself in two local schools in Suva to get an understanding of how basketball is taught and the skills that new basketballers are adopting into their games,” he said.

Acosta has enjoyed preparing the players for the Melanesian Cup and hopes he’s put them in a position where the team will qualify for the Pacific Games.

“There’s a real difference with Fijian basketballers, they play for pride and not for money. There’s a team culture and there are no ‘most valuable players’. 

“That’s what the men will take to all their games in PNG, pride and a team attitude and I’m pretty proud of that,” he said.

Tomorrow will put this passion and pride to the test as they fight for their spot in the 2019 Pacific Games.