Hernandez, hosts Guam hopes to keep basketball rising on the island
MANGILAO (Guam) - It is looking like a big year for basketball in Guam.
In 2022, the senior men’s national team swept through the First Round of FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Pre-Qualifiers. That, in turn, resulted in a leap of 5 spots up the FIBA World Ranking Men, presented by Nike, putting that at 82 and 15th in Asia.
Guam had hosted the FIBA Micronesia Cup 2022 just earlier in June. Again, they swept through the competition and was awarded with the title this time.
Now, Guam will play host once again, this time for the FIBA U15 Oceania Championship 2022 for both men’s and women’s. It will not be as easy as sweeping through all of their opponents as they’ve done in the past competitions, but the youngsters are up to the challenge.
"We’re a small community here and we have to compete against many of the same athletes," said Noah Tenorio Hernandez. "Having an opportunity to compete against our region’s best is exciting and I’m ready."
In this small community, Hernandez has gotten the opportunity to learn from many experienced players that have played at larger stages which has helped him become ready for these upcoming games that will be played from 21-26 November.
He lists these coaches and players off as those who helped him fall in love with the game from "Will Stinnet, Dom Sablan, Daren Hechanova, and Jimmy Yi". These are just some of the names that have made it possible for young Hernandez to be representing Guam for the first time.
"Being able to represent my island has always been a goal of mine," he said. "Knowing that we’re representing our island and our people is really special. Not many athletes get this opportunity, so I’m going to make the best of it."
"It really means a lot. We’re playing for the pride of our island and that motivates me to work hard every practice."
Another person, and maybe the most important, that has fueled Hernandez through this early stage in his basketball journey is who he refers to as "The Real MVP".
"Last but not least," said Hernandez as he listed the players he looks up to. "A star to me, the real MVP, is my mom, Natasha Tenorio."
Family has played a large role in preparing Hernandez for this moment. Family is actually the starting point that introduced him to the game.
"I just remembered that my family was a bunch of athletes," recalled Hernandez, whose older sister Alura is on the U17 women’s national team. "I chose multiple sports that I really enjoyed. I fell in love with basketball. It stuck around the longest."
These upcoming games will see Guam compete with the likes of Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Northern Mariana Islands, New Zealand, Micronesia, and Australia. As hosts, Hernandez has some high expectations for his squad.
"I’m expecting our team to do well. We have a talented roster and everyone can contribute within their roles. I’m expecting to gain experience playing at a high level."
The FIBA U15 Oceanian Championships serve as qualifiers for the FIBA U16 Asian Championships 2023 with the top two teams going through.
The FIBA U15 Oceania Championships will be hosted in Guam from November 21 to November 26. Follow the event here!