Micronesian boys debut at FIBA U15 Championships PIC 1

TEAM MICRONESIA: The Micronesia U15 boys national basketball team is competing in the FIBA U15 Oceania Championship Guam 2022 Nov. 21-26 at the UOG Calvo Field House. Photo courtesy of FIBA

(FIBA) — With the FIBA Under 15 Oceania Championships tipping off Monday, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) boys were ready to embrace the opportunity and compete against the best in Oceania.

“This is a huge opportunity for our FSM to come here and compete for the first time,” said Ryan Yamada, head coach. “We have been preparing for three months and with the support of lots of families, we are here and grateful that the boys have this opportunity to be exposed to a high level of basketball.”

Training five days a week with just the weekends off, the FSM contingent rallied to assemble a tough team with a balanced group leading the way on and off the court.

“We are not a big team, however, we all have big hearts, our key players include Joshua (Iehsi-Panuelo), Kody (Akinaga), the twins (Ryu and Yu Nakasone), Daniel (Amor) and Youser (Ladore),” Yamada said. “They are the most experienced and with the support of the others, these boys are going to play with their hearts.”

Competing in their first FIBA U15 Oceania Championships, FSM is not just here to be another number and aims to put their best foot forward for a spot on the podium.

“We are here to win,” Yamada said. “It will also be great to get to know others, increase that sportsmanship and see how we can better ourselves going back after this competition to improve and develop basketball back on our islands. We want to continue to grow and develop basketball in the region so we can keep coming to these events.”

A definite wild card in the competition, FSM tips off their campaign against the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands on day one of the competition.

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 is hosted in Guam from Nov. 21-26 at the University of Guam Calvo Field House. 

Micronesia wins opener

In Micronesia's tournament-opening game, the FSM defeated the CNMI 91-73. 

Leading FSM with a double-double, Iehsi-Panuelo scored 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Teammates Yu Nakasone and Akinaga scored 19 points and 18 points, respectively.