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A family affair for Guam team

PAPUA NEW GUINEA (FIBA U15 Oceania) - Despite the rude welcome to the big stage from traditional Oceania powerhouse countries, Australia and New Zealand, the island nation of Guam have taken the losses in stride and focused on the silver lining that its part of the process.

TheFIBA U15 Oceania tournament has served as the first tournament for most of the players participating in the event and Guam is not an exception; their line-up feature brothers Blaise (13 years old) and Brock Ada (15 years old) representing their country.

“It’s cool that I get to play with him because we have such different skill sets. He has ball handling and shooting, I’m more of a defender, post player, so it’s cool that we both got in at different positions on the same team and we get to play together," Brock said.

“We started playing when we got a hoop for Christmas, and we used it to get outside more we have been playing ever since," added Blaise.

Photo: (Left) Jun Espaldon and Bill Ada cheering on Team Guam

The Ada brothers started basketball three years ago when their father Bill installed a basketball court in their driveway home.

Bill and fellow parent Jun Espaldon has been a regular fixture during the games taking photos, videos and cheering in the scorching heat of the Taurama Aquatic Indoor Center.

"I encouraged them to play a team sport, and they chose basketball. My sons love it, so I’m all in and supporting them all out," said the proud father. "Brock making the national team is something that we didn’t expect, and we’re extremely proud they worked hard to try and make the team, and when we found out our youngest one (Blaise) made it, we were extremely excited."

Guam Head Coach Brent Tipton gratefully acknowledged the presence of the parents and believes that this campaign has made them a family.

"Jun and Bill could be here on vacation, but they have instead worked closely with the team. They bring the boys water, bought extra water, food and have even videotaped opponents while we play so we can watch them after,"- Guam head coach Brent Tipton

 "They have a true servants heart, really they’re here to serve the team, and it’s been a testament to their giving of themselves to our team, and we appreciate that," he added.

Guam has found their stride and has strung together two impressive wins over Papua New Guinea (86-60) and Fiji (79-51) after losing their first three games.

"We are extremely proud of the boys. To be able to play against some of the best in the world is something special because they’re not going to get that in Guam. We’re only a hundred and eighty thousand people, so we’re competing against countries with millions, and for them to go out on the court and give their 100 percent, that's what all we can ask for," said Bill Ada.

Tipton who also handles the U18 squad has been a picture of encouragement for his team despite their early struggle in the tournament. When asked how does he stay positive in challenging times, the coach offered his take on what gives them the motivation for the team.

"It’s because we love the guys, we’ve been together for three months already, and we treat each other as family. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and to represent our island of Guam, it's bigger than just our team, we want to give our best for our country," Tipton shared.

Brock, Blaise and the rest of the Guam squad have displayed maturity beyond their age but their childlike exuberance was really apparent in the way they play and even watch the games. The players, coaching staff and their supporters have been soaking it all in and the experience will only serve them well moving forward.

"We feel blessed to represent our country at this level. And to do it with our brothers makes it even more special," said the 13-year old Blaise.