After months of delays due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Guam men’s national basketball team finally got the green light for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers. Team Guam left Tuesday to play in Amman, Jordan within a FIBA competition bubble.
Team Guam head coach EJ Calvo said it’s good to be gearing up for competition. The men's team will be competing against Hong Kong today at 11 p.m. Guam time, then they face the Hong Kong team again June 15.
A win would be a huge step forward for the island’s program.
“A win at this level of FIBA would make history for our program and advance us to more games in August,” Calvo said. “This has been our mission, and we can’t let all the delays and postponements distract our focus on these next two games.”
The last time Team Guam competed, they played against New Zealand in Feb. 2020 before a sellout home crowd at the University of Guam Calvo Field House.
Calvo admits there may be some pandemic rust they have to shake off, but the team has made efforts to beat that, even training in Los Angeles at the prestigious Sports Academy under NBA assistant coach Phil Handy. The training, along with a practice under the guidance of an NCAA Division I coach, went a long way towards elevating Team Guam’s game play.
Despite the hurdles, the men’s team has worked diligently to stay competition ready, understanding the call up to play could come any day.
“I’m so excited to finally see our team back in action!,” Calvo said. “We know we will be a little rusty after all this time without games, but we will focus on tightening our defense and offensive execution every minute. … We are extremely excited to be together and look forward to going to battle as we always do.”
The focus, Calvo said, has always been on representing Guam to the best of their abilities, commending the professionalism and commitment of the athletes despite the many delays and hurdles.
“We hope to inspire our youth and show that anything is possible with hard work and sacrifice,” he said,. “Teamwork has been the key to our success. We will stick together and motivate each other as we overcome obstacles!”
The only frustration, Calvo said, has been seeing the city of Amman “from behind windows of our hotel and not being able to visit a local store or restaurant, but we came with a clear objective and appreciate all the safety precautions.”
Calvo thanked the Guam fans for all their continued support.
“Thanks to all our supporters and fans back home, as well as abroad. We promise to play hard and do our best!,” he said.