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Lumabi, Northern Marianas Island ready to take the leap

SAIPAN (Northern Marianas Island) - Northern Marianas Islands Basketball is aiming to leap in terms of their basketball development and it can count on Marlene Lumabi as among the key people expected to make that mission happen with her countless roles and contributions – both as an official and a coach.

Coming off a productive stint with the Rising Coaches program by FIBA featuring the best promising coaches under 25 from Pacific Island countries, Lumabi said a bright future awaits NMI with a concrete roadmap in place starting with big projects this year.

One of those is the Mini Basketball programs set next month that is aimed at bringing the hoops closer to the villages and communities for NMI’s innovative grassroots program. The project includes the promotion of health and wellness and workshops for game officials, referees, and coaches.

“I’m not only excited for our plans but also our community. We want to allow our community to be a part of our growth,” said Lumabi, who serves as one of NMI’s board of directors and part of the grassroots committee.

On top of Mini Basketball programs are the national training plans for 20 men and 20 women athletes as part of NMI’s early preparation for the Micronesia Games including preparations for the development of junior national programs.

Launching interscholastic tournaments in elementary, middle school and high school ranks, as well as 3x3 events in October, are in the pipeline, making it an exciting time for NMI basketball.

Club programs will not be left behind either as Lumabi herself serves as coach of the women’s team in the Rollers Basketball Association under the NMI basketball community.

The association has already hosted four tournaments while participating in three more in Saipan with a grand plan of establishing a regular men’s tournament in the next couple of months.

“I wanted to show our youth that the sport of basketball isn’t just about playing the game. Many elements help bring the sport to life like the coaches, federation, and communities. With the backing of my fellow board members, I am confident to say that the future of basketball in the NMI is bright,” she beamed.

“My goal as an individual is to grow my knowledge and perspective of the game. Basketball is evolving and many new techniques have emerged. Growing our grassroots and the junior national program is my top priority. The plan is to collaborate with our community because they will help promote and grow the sport to our youth as well as women coaches and officials.”

NMI Basketball Federation President James Lee praised Lumabi's potential and her contribution to the development of basketball in the country.

“The National Federation with the help of individuals like Marlene has done a good job laying the foundations for these great programs that would not only help the continuous growth of NMI basketball but also our community and culture as a whole,” Lee said.

"We are very excited and proud in entering these next steps in developing basketball in the country. We can see the potential and it's up to us to take advantage of it and push forward with the momentum we have built," he added.