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Adelbai helping Palau Basketball on and off the court

Koror (PALAU) - Mahealani Adelbai has been representing Palau Basketball in the international stage since 2011 as a 13-year-old and has grown into one of the leaders of youth basketball in the country.

Adelbai's first sport was volleyball but shared that basketball became her sport when she discovered that she was a natural for it.

"I used to play volleyball but I tried out for basketball in the seventh grade and from then on never looked back," said Adelbai, who is fondly called "Tint" by her friends.

"It was easy for me to learn and my father then taught me on most mornings and it became a routine for us," she added.

Since then, Adelbai has fully immersed herself in Palau Basketball, on and off the court culminated by her participating in the 2019 IBF Youth Leadership Cup held in Singapore and Indonesia.

"The Youth Leadership Seminar was a great experience for me it helped instill confidence in myself and gained a lot of knowledge especially in 3x3," said Adelbai.

"We were taught about the basics of 3x3 event maker and also was given lessons about leadership," she added.

Photo: Adelbai (wearing white) tinkering with event maker on her laptop with technical officials

 The 23-year old's knowledge and familiarity with 3x3 were in full effect at the recently held Belau Sports Youth Festival with Tint as an official for the tournament.

"Based on what we did last year running our tournament and selecting a team for Bali, I was able to use my knowledge to help in this year's Sports Festival to teach the mechanics of the event maker and also rules of 3x3," shared Adelbai.

Adelbai believes that 3x3 is a great introduction to basketball for young girls because of its accessibility and easier requirements to build a 4-man team.

"I believe 3x3 can be a good discipline to introduce and encourage girls to play basketball. In the Sports Festival, we patterned it after our IBF tournament and had a mixed format. It was easier to get people to join the games," she said.

"It was also fun to see girls play and perform well against boys which gives them more confidence," she added.

Photo: Adelbai participating in the Palau Basketball Federation Youth  BasketballCamp as a facilitator.

 Even with her mighty efforts off the court trying to grow the game on the grassroots level, Adelbai also has a keen eye in the 2022 Micronesian Games. Tint has represented Palau in 2014 and 2018 with the latter edition helping the country take home the Bronze Medal.

"I think for any sport to gain more attention the key is to winning and making the country proud. We have a young and talented group of players coming up in our Under 19 squad which can help us in international tournaments," said Adelbai.

"If we can continue our trajectory and improve from 2018 hopefully basketball can bring more aspiring young girls to the program," she added.

Adelbai shared that basketball is the most popular men's sport in Palau while volleyball is the preferred sport for women, and she wants to change that narrative.

"I believe that women in Palau can excel in basketball. We just need to continue to develop our skills and hopefully one day we can see great strides for women in basketball," she ended.