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4 Livi Monson Hirawani (SAM)
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Samoa excited to bring the best of Polynesia and the Pacific to Apia

APIA - The next 18 months are full of excitement and opportunity for the Samoan National Basketball Association (SNBA).

Over this period, the SNBA will organize and/or participate in a number of FIBA programs including hosting the inaugural FIBA Polynesia Basketball Cup in November this year and the Pacific Games in July 2019.

Not to mention the launch of a Basketball for Good program and national team participation in the 3x3 Asia Cup (men’s women’s and youth), FIBA Asia U18 Division B competitions plus the FIBA Oceania U15 championships in Papua New Guinea in December.

SNBA President Pauga Talalelei Pauga is not daunted by the busy schedule.

"It is an exciting time for us all," he said. "We are putting plans in place to ensure we can succeed in all aspects. We want SNBA to be a lead basketball federation in this region."

First up though, is the Polynesia Basketball Cup. This event will see the five Polynesia nations of American Samoa, Cook Islands, Tahiti, Samoa and Tonga come together for men’s and women’s events to try to claim the title of Polynesia Champions. The event will also qualify the top two teams for the Pacific Games to be held in July 2019.

"This is an exciting event for Polynesia and for Samoa in particular," FIBA Executive Director - Oceania David Crocker commented. "It provides teams an opportunity to come together and play at a high quality event to not only be the champions of their sub-zone – but also to earn their spot at Pacific Games. It also allows SNBA to prepare for their responsibilities hosting the Pacific Games."

The Oceania congress decided in 2016 to cap the number of places at the Pacific Games to eight teams – in order to raise the level of the event and help support future hosts.

"This has allowed us to now hold sub-zone events which will actually allow more Federations to participate than those who normally would only have the opportunity to come to Pacific Games," Oceania Development Manager Annie La Fleur remarked.

"We have already seen with the Melanesia Cup in PNG in 2017, the standard was fantastic and it provided another opportunity for those National Federations to bring their national team together, train and play meaningful matches against quality opposition."

In order to prepare SNBA to arrange a successful event in October, FIBA Oceania is partnering with SNBA to recruit a full-time manager who will help run the behind the scenes operational activity of the federation. This person will work alongside SNBA development officer Linda Kelsall and the SNBA executive.

"We are looking for someone who can help us achieve our goals, who is a good operator and well-organized," Pauga commented.

"This administrator is going to play a key role in ensuring SNBA can continue to achieve great things in the coming months and years," Crocker added.

This person won't have long before they will be thrown into action, with SNBA to use the Samoa Independence Day Tournament in June as its test event for the Polynesia Cup in October.

"The Samoa Independence Day Tournament is growing every year," Pauga added. "We have teams from Samoa, American Samoa, New Zealand and Australia attend. We also held the Samoa Cup in January in Auckland, New Zealand - so our competitions are getting better and better each year."

Oceania Competitions Manager Amanda Jenkins and Crocker will visit Samoa next month to meet with the new recruit and Mr Pauga to help prepare SNBA for the upcoming calendar of events.

"We will meet with a number of key stakeholders, along with inspecting venues and facilities," said Jenkins. "We are looking forward to working closely with SNBA."

Joining the top two Polynesia teams will also be the top three from Melanesia - Fiji, New Caledonia and PNG - the winner of the Micronesia Games and host nation Samoa. Despite their automatic qualification, Samoa are still eager to do well in front of their home crowds at the Polynesia cup.

"We want to prepare our teams to give ourselves every chance of holding up the cup at home.  It will also be crucial preparation for the event in 2019," Pauga commented.

SNBA have really utilised the limited resources that they have had available, and with reinforcements and more opportunities coming their way, this federation is determined to continue to succeed.

For more information regarding the SNBA manager role, please contact SNBA President Tala Pauga at tpauga@accountant.com.