17 - 25
November 2023
Pacific Games president Lakhan amazed by and optimistic about basketball at Pacific Games
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Pacific Games President Lakhan amazed by and optimistic about basketball at Pacific Games

HONIARA (Solomon Islands) - Nothing beats watching live action of a good game of basketball. Pacific Games President Vidhya Lakhan can attest to that as he watched defending champions Guam face Papua New Guinea in the Group Phase.

The Pacific Games Basketball Tournament is the official qualifier of the Oceania region to the FIBA Asia Cup Pre-Qualifiers.

Lakhan said: "[It's been] quite exciting. It was pretty close when I got in, but now Guam has got a reasonable lead," referring to Guam's 23-20 lead at the end of the first quarter.

"It amazes me; you don’t realize until you come onto the court and see how fast the games are, how it switches from end to end."

While the speed of this particular game left Lakhan amazed, he's seen and been involved in a fair share of exciting basketball action across many decades.

"I've been involved with the Pacific Games for a very long time," he said. "and I remember back in 1997 in American Samoa, [Steve Smith] and I got together for the first time and since then our relationship with basketball has been pretty good."

The relationship sparked a vision that saw basketball as an example for sports in the games with the way the competitions were held that heightened the level of excitement.

"We see basketball is perhaps a leader for the Pacific Games, setting trends which maybe other sports need to follow. What is done is how you have your regional games or qualifiers, Melanesian, Micronesian, and Polynesian, and then bring the top teams from those regions to the games.

Lakhan explained that he'd like to see other sports proceed in a similar fashion to raise the quality of the Games and that this will be a key issue he's looking to tackle moving forward.

The key phrase here is "moving forward". While the hosts, Solomon Islands were unable to claim a win here, there were positives to be seen that opened up room for optimism heading in the future.

"The only way they can go is forward," Lakhan said of Solomon Islands basketball. "The importance the games are creating and the support they are getting from people like the government… we can only go forward, which is good. Of course, TV coverage, live coverage also gives us added value and hopefully more and more attention to the sport."

There is still some action left to settle on the hardwood, with Guam facing Samoa and Fiji playing New Caledonia in the Semi-Finals, but there's already anticipation and preparation for the next games in 2027, which will be hosted in Tahiti.

"We were in Tahiti three months ago and we're looking at what they have and what they are proposing to build for the 2027 games. The government is quite supportive. Tahiti is a very senior member of the Pacific Games and they have already hosted already, they have expertise, they are adept and next week there is a delegation coming to the Solomon Islands to transfer knowledge to 2027 to improve the quality of the delivery of the game. I think in Tahiti would be a good [Pacific Games]."