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Guam star duo to play professionally in New Zealand
ADELUP - Guam's Joe Blas and William Stinnett are living a dream. The two players have signed professional contracts to play for the Hawke's Bay IMS Payroll Hawks in New Zealand's NBL next season.
They are products of Guam Basketball, winners of the 2015 Pacific Games gold medal. They also came in third in the FIBA 3×3 Tournament in Australia a few months ago. While there, the pair had workouts with professional teams.
Each has ended up signing to play in New Zealand. Both players are in the clouds.
"For the first time ever in my life I get to just focus on basketball and that's what I'm most excited about," Blas said to guamsportsnetwork.com.
It's everyone's dream to get paid to do what you love to do. I get to eat, sleep and breathe basketball. This whole process has been unreal - Blas
Stinnett is elated. But he does not want to settle for just being a member of a team. He wants to excel.
"It's a blessing really, but we still have a lot of hard work to put in during the next couple of months," he said.
Out of all the places we tried out at, Hawkes Bay was the place we like the most. We felt most comfortable with its East Coast feeling and we really liked the people and scenery while spending just a short time there. - Stinnett
The club is just as thrilled. The Hawks believe the two players will give them a boost.
"We are very excited to welcome both Willie and Joe to the Hawks family," Hawks general manager Jay Bratschi said. "I was able to meet and watch the guys scrimmage on their visit to Napier, New Zealand. Coach EJ Calvo and his players have been great ambassadors for the island, and showcasing the talent Guam produces."
It has helped Blas and Stinnett that Tai Wesley, a player with the Wellington Saints, has been a good representative of Guam. It won't take long before they face Wesley, in fact. The two sides go up against each other on 13 March. It will be the Hawks' first game.
Blas (top) and Stinnett (bottom) announced their pro signings in Adelup
"Hopefully there's still room for me to get better and thankfully I've been able to start this process while I'm still hitting my prime," Blas said. He wants his move to New Zealand to make it easier for other aspiring pros to get opportunities. "I hope a lot of these kids understand that you can go somewhere from being a part of the Guam team," he said.