17 - 25
November 2023
22 Daren Hechanova (GUM), 42 Tai William-evans Wesley (GUM)
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Can Tai Wesley leave Pacific Games legacy with a three-peat?

HAGATNA (Guam) - The rise of Guam basketball is no longer a secret. They have stepped up into the scene as an entertaining, up-and-coming basketball nation throughout the previous FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers since 2019 and continue to show promise heading into the next cycle.

However, for those who are fans of basketball at the Pacific Games, this is nothing new. Guam have been arguably the best men's national team in the 21st century. They have played in all gold medal games since 1999, though it was not until 2015 that they were able to win it all - their first gold medal in 36 years.

"I feel that after we won the gold in 2015 we were able to attract more players and grow basketball in the tiny island of Guam."


"That gold medal was incredibly special for myself and everybody on that team," said national team veteran and standout Tai Wesley. "It was something that started the entire dominoes for our program and will always be one of my most favorite memories playing basketball."

That's understandable. It's hard to top the memories of winning a gold medal as a representative of your country, especially when it is your national team debut as well.

"That was my first time, putting on a Guam uniform. I felt incredibly proud and honored to represent the nation of Guam."

From there, as Wesley depicted, the dominoes kept falling into place.

After winning the Pacific Games in 2015, Guam roared through the FIBA Asia Cup 2022 Eastern Region Pre-Qualifiers in November 2018 and went on to defend their Pacific Games gold in 2019.

The dominating run in 2019 saw Guam go undefeated by an average margin of victory of 30.3 points per game. In his second appearance in the Games, Wesley averaged 18.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.2 blocks per game while shooting 59.1 percent from the field, 42.9 percent from the three-point line and 80.0 percent from the free-throw line.

The national team program had taken a considerable step forward and Wesley was firmly among the key catalysts to make that happen.

"I take a lot of pride in keeping the program going. I feel that after we won the gold in 2015 we were able to attract more players and grow basketball in the tiny island of Guam."

Now, Wesley and Guam are back at it again and have their focus locked in on scoring a third straight gold. Can they be the first national team since American Samoa from 1983 to 1991 to complete a three-peat?

There's some pressure, Wesley admits, but it's not something new.

"I definitely feel like we are coming in with a target on our backs. But nothing different than what we already felt in Samoa four years ago. We know that every team will give us their best shot and that’s what we expect."

It would definitely feel like a plot straight out of a sports movie if Guam follows through with their third consecutive title, especially as it could be Wesley's "last dance" at the Pacific Games as well.

While he's consistently been a high-level player for Guam ever since his debut in all competitions, Wesley is already 37 years old and would be over 40 by the next Pacific Games. He hasn't completely ruled out the possibility of another appearance just yet, but he's preparing his mindset just in case it is his last stand.

"Unfortunately, it very well could be my last Pacific games and so I want to enjoy every moment," said Wesley. "The legacy I would like to leave behind is someone who left it all on the court and played the game the right way."

Tai Wesley's resume checks out so far. But there's always some room to add a bit more, maybe for a line as a three-time Pacific Games gold medalist?