FIBA U15 Oceania Championship: Fiji aiming for Top 4

SOURCE: International Basketball Federation (FIBA)

PAPUA NEW GUINEA (FIBA U15 Oceania Championship) – The Women’s U15 Fiji national team have modest expectations in their upcoming FIBA U15 Oceania Championship campaign on December 4-8 in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

The competition is the first phase of qualification to the 2020 FIBA U17 World Cup. The top two finishers will advance to the FIBA U16 Asian Championship while the third and fourth-ranked team will advance to Division B.

Team manager Apenisa Naitini gracefully obliged to an interview and answered FIBA’s questions via email to give an update on Fiji’s preparation for the tournament.

How are the preparations for the tournament going on so far?

With the time, resources and manpower we have, I would say we are doing well with preparations. Both the Boys and Girls are preparing well, training and gearing up to the tournament. The kids are excited as this will be the first time to represent Fiji and also travel abroad.

What are things you are focusing on in terms of your game plan in regards to the competition?

We aim to finish top 4 of the tournament with boys and girls. We know Australia and New Zealand will be amongst the toughest teams, but we are not ruling out any other teams out. The girl’s category is a round-robin so they have a game every day including one of the days they will play two games which will be against New Zealand and Australia. However, we will take it one game at a time.

Did you organize tune-up games for the team?

We are playing tune-up games over the past few months and will have one more before the team heads out.

What do you think will be the strengths or weaknesses of the team?

Like most teams, our strengths come from the players working together as a team to achieve our set goals. Our weakness would most probably that this will be the first time for our U15 squad to be exposed to a tournament at this level. However, we are positive and look forward to a great competition.

How big of an impact do you think will the tournament be for the players?

It will have a significant impact on the players. Considering the age of the players, this will be the first time for most of them to travel as a team, board a plane and visit a foreign country.

Are there players to look out for in your team? Why do you think they can make a huge difference in the tournament?

We have one player Estelle Kainamoli who has represented Fiji in the U18 3 x 3 Tournament in Bali earlier this year. Her experience in international tournaments will assist in preparing the girls mentally during the competition.

Which team do you think will be the toughest match-up for your team?

Being hosted by PNG, I believe that they will one of the favorites for this tournament. The toughest teams I believe would be Australia and New Zealand, but this being the inaugural U15 it would be anyone’s ball game.

What are your thoughts on the possibility of joining either the Division A or Division B of the U16 Asian Championships?

That is our aim for this tournament to be eligible to qualify for the U16 Asia Championships.

Message to the supporters of the national team

To our supporters, especially our families and our communities just a big vinaka vakalevu for your continued support throughout our preparation period. We ask for your continued support through our one week of competition in PNG!

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