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First ever FIBA U17 Oceania Development Camp a huge success

GUAM – Every two years, teams from around the Oceania come together to compete at the FIBA U17 Oceania Championships. It is a chance for the best youth players to compete against each other, make new friends and determine a champion.

For some countries, it is the chance to size themselves up against regional powerhouses, Australia and New Zealand, who boast huge populations and notoriously talented youth basketball teams.

With amazing basketball facilities, national junior high-performance programs and teams of people managing the development of basketball in their country, Australia and New Zealand always prove to be a formidable foe. Whilst others countries in the region only have one or two volunteers to manage all basketball matters in the country and play their National Championships on outdoor courts.

All nations share the same love and passion for the sport of basketball but some have more development opportunities and resources than others. This is why FIBA in Oceania created the FIBA Oceania Development Camp.

Following the group phase of the FIBA U17 Oceania Championships 2017, teams were split into Division A and Division B. The Division A teams played off for a medal whereas the Division B teams received a once in a lifetime opportunity for some of these athletes.

At the conclusion of the Division B Medal games, players and coaches from these were invited to attend a 2-day development camp conducted by FIBA in Oceania Development Manager Annie La Fleur. Guest coaches included Basketball Australia Head of High Performance – Coach Development Peter Lonergan, New Zealand U17 Men’s Head Coach Miles Pearce and New Zealand U17 Women’s Head Coach Jody Cameron.

The focus of the camp was on "the fantastic five of basketball - pivot, pass, dribble, shoot and individual defense,” said Mr. Lonergan.

Picture 50 teenage athletes from the Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, Palau and Tahiti national teams together on the court, working together and learning from each other. Some of these athletes had never played on a court with floorboards before this event and now they are being coached by some of the best in the region.

“FIBA Oceania has had a strong commitment to player & coach development for a long time and it was an honor to play a small part in this endeavor. The energy for learning is always great in these sessions and the Pacific athletes were very receptive.”

Coach Pearce working one-on-one with the athletes

“This was a very humbling experience for me,” added Mr. Pearce. “It felt amazing being able to work with these kids, they were great. Even with some language barriers with the French speaking athletes, you could see how eager they were to listen and learn.”

“It was fantastic to see all of these athletes taking everything in,” said La Fleur. “They were very receptive to what the coaches had to say and tried to perfect everything they asked. Growing up in Papua New Guinea, we were never exposed to this level of coaching. I am very proud to be a part of something that is providing these types of opportunities to athletes.”