Solomon Islands excited to represent and protect their home court at Pacific Games
QUEENSLAND (Australia) - The excitement from Solomon Island's Elijah Otasui for the upcoming Pacific Games 2023 is understandable. But no matter how much you think you can comprehend from your perspective, it still is unmatched to how Otasui actually feels.
"I'm so excited, you don't understand," said the 17-year-old. "I'm so ready and so prepared for the Pacific Games. I'm just so excited."
There is a good reason for that enthusiasm towards the quadrennial event. It will be the first time the Solomon Islands are hosting the competition, giving their athletes a chance to not only represent the island but to also have their local fans experience the action first-handed, too.
"It's going to bring people on to the island and inspire the community… so happy and pumped."
They'll need that homecourt advantage. The Solomon Islands have yet to win a medal in the Pacific Games so far, making it a great time to secure one on their home soil this time. That's why they have been deep in preparation in a training camp in the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia.
"This is working towards the Pacific Games; getting ready, prepared, cleaning our stuff up, and addressing minor details to improve our game," said Otasui.
“It has been awesome here, the boys are coming here for the first time and it has been great to integrate with our Australia-based players," added head coach Bryce Bracke.
“Our first hit out was okay, the boys performed how we expected and played very hard and strong.
“Our main focus is gelling the team together ahead of the games. We have some good combinations happening but we are working towards more team work."
Coach Bracke sees many key pieces in his team such as a core leader in Alex Masaea.
"It was great for the team here, a new experience for us," said Masaea. "We have been playing local teams in Honiara, so to come to the Sunshine coast has been great for the team."
Of course, there is also the aforementioned youngster Otasui, who provides a lot of promise.
"Super active, awesome player who has been good for team," commented Bracke. "Offensively and defensively he is good, he just needs to learn more control and to slow down the ball and make good decisions."
"I will bring what I can," said Otasui. "Good energy, aggression and pushing our team over the line whether it is at the wing or guard or anywhere."
But in general, what the Solomon Islands are looking to build is a team. And what they have built so far, at the very least, looks to be like a team that loves each other.
"It's a really good team. I love this team to death." Said Otasui. "We are rebuilding. We are going well in the right direction and it is great. I love this team. Max [Grantham] is controlled and relaxed. Kali [Maelasi] is the aggressor and it's so good to be around."
The vibes are positive and the team is hoping that will translate into positive results.
"We have to protect our home court, play for, and represent the Solomon Islands," added Bracke. "We have to hold on to and keep that pride and work for it."