FIBA - International Basketball Federation

11/08/2018 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/08/2018 02:50

American Samoa ready for battle

AMERICAN SAMOA (POLYNESIA CUP) - American Samoa Head Coach Diehl Langkilde believes that his team is ready to take on the opposition in the upcoming Women's Polynesia Cup that will be held in Apia, Samoa on November 19-24.

FIBA connected with Langkilde and talked about their preparation for the upcoming regional qualifier for the 2019 Pacific Games which serves as Oceania's gateway to the FIBA Asia Cup Pre-Qualifiers and FIBA Asia Women's Division B.

What's the status of American Samoa's preparation for the Polynesia Cup?
The American Samoa basketball association has been preparing for the 2018 Polynesia Cup since its announcement in late 2017 to serve as a qualification competition to earn a spot in the 2019 Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa. President of the American Samoa Basketball Association (ASBA), Milton Taufa'asau, suggested to the executive board that preparations will begin immediately to gather the best available athletes American Samoa can muster. In 2015, the women's basketball team was able to secure the silver medal at the Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea after the loss against Fiji. Our focus has always been the same and that is to maintain a high-performance training for athletes and keep them ready for competition. Both men & women teams have maintained a high level of training and preparing for competition.

What are the programs or training regimens that the teams have done so far and how ready are they for the tournament?
Athletes have been doing individual private training as they prepare for the tournament. ASBA has been meeting for logistics and requesting assistance from the American Samoa Government for training facilities. That has been the challenge for ASBA as basketball gyms are government owned and private facilities do not have open door policies for national team training. However, the teams have been preparing themselves and are looking to be very competitive.

What will be in next steps for them in the lead up to the tournement?
We want to introduce the team to our sponsors and the Island and do community outreaching for up and coming athletes within the elementary & high school levels. With the development of athletes in American Samoa, we want our elite athletes to showcase their skills and provide insight into their own progression and advice for the student-athletes. Team American Samoa plans to depart on November 17th and arrive in Apia on November 18th.

Are there any scheduled tune-up games? If yes, against which team/s? What do you look forward to learn from it?
The next step for Team American Samoa is hosting a couple of exhibition games against 2 local clubs who have championships in their respective leagues to gauge the national team. Building team chemistry and dynamics are key for the athletes. The team is looking to compete against the 2018 Flag Day champions Primetime who are back-to-back undefeated champions and the 2018 Moso'oi & Summer league champions, Team Shaun. For the women teams, we're looking at team Ol Skool & Swoosh to compete against our women's national team.

What do you think will be the strengths of the team?
All around team play with both teams. What we lack in our weaknesses, we fortified it with our strengths to compensate. This team will rely on everything from speed, shooting, and defensive presence. This team will have no problem in identifying some of the work we need to focus on and build off it.

Who are the key players for the team?
For the women, Rheina, Kristen & Desiree Ale, Tipesa Moorer & Destiny King who are returning from their 2015 silver medal campaign who are looking to compete again this year to qualify. The Ale sisters, Moorer & King had a great 2015 campaign and have been training hard in the last year. Rheina with her commanding presence at the PG position and Kristen at the 2 guards who has been a streaky shooter. Desiree will be our focal point on the defensive of the ball while Moorer & King have an inside & outside game that works amazing for our type of style of play. We're happy to have added some key pieces to fill out our roster at different positions.

Which team do you think will be the favorites? Why?
We feel that all teams in this competition will be tough due to the changing of the format where we have to compete to earn a spot at the Pacific Games. We've always seen Tahiti & Samoa as tough competitions. Tahiti has always had a good recruitment of big man out of their French programs and utilize a good usage of their guards on the offensive side of the ball. Samoa is well known for their toughness and low post game. What they lack in their outside game they make up for it by attacking the basket with their big men. However, not to take away anything from Tonga & the Cook Islands, but we know they are coming into this qualifier with a high determination to earn a spot for the Pacific Games.

What are your expectations for the team in the upcoming tournament?
To compete at a high level, its what is expected from every athlete on this team. We know what is at stake and we're treating this tournament as a gold medal game against all opponents. Our players know that it will take dedication, discipline and hard work to compete. We expect no less from our coaches and administration who work behind the scenes to prepare for this event.

Message to the supporters of the national team
We can't thank our families, friends, private businesses and corporations enough for putting their best foot forward in supporting the American Samoa Basketball Association and Team American Samoa. We also like to thank our major sponsor, Pago Pago Trading Company, who made the effort to allow team American Samoa to come together. Without their support, we would not be able to be where we're at today. We thank you, Mrs. Ella Gurr and the PPTC family. The families of our athletes who opened their doors for these athletes to accommodate them while in American Samoa, we can't thank you enough. The fellowshipping you've experienced with them will last a lifetime and allow them to experience the cultures of being Samoan. It is with the best intentions of our association that we return home from the Polynesia Cup earning the right to represent American Samoa in the 2019 Pacific Games.