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Samoa banking on chemistry and home advantage

SAMOA (POLYNESIA CUP) - Samoa Men's Head Coach Stephen Schuster is banking on their familiarity and homecourt advantage for the upcoming Polynesia Cup that will be held in Apia, Samoa on November 19-24.

Schuster coached Samoa Men's basketball team in the 2015 Pacific Games where they finished in fifth place bared that the core of that squad will return for the "Poly Cup."

"We have been preparing for this tournament for a long time. Most of our players are locals and we have three-fourths (3/4) of our team in the last Pacific Games returning for the Polynesia Cup," shared Schuster.

"Some of our players have been to two Pacific Games already and still under 30 years old, so I think we are sending a strong team," he added.

Although Samoa has already qualified for the Pacific Game as hosts, Schuster assures the commitment of the team and is targeting a top-three finish.

"We want to be in the top three of the tournament and use this as a barometer of our preparation for next year's Pacific Games," said Schuster.

"We have homecourt so the boys should take advantage of that and show our country how good we are in basketball," he added.

Schuster emphasized that although they have 6'6 center Theodore McFarland in their line-up, Samoa will be relying on their speed and quickness as their strength in the upcoming games.

"McFarland is a very physical player inside and we can use him as our foundation in our rebounding to help us facilitate our running game. [But] We will be relying on our speed to give us a chance," shared Schuster.

"We hired a local athletics speed coach to help us prepare and we are doing really well in terms of our fitness and conditioning," he ended.

The Polynesia Cup will feature a 5-team tournament including American Samoa, Tonga Tahiti, Cook Islands, and host Samoa, to serve as the qualifiers for the 2019 Pacific Games. The top two teams will qualify excluding Samoa.