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GNOC GIVES U19 TEAMS A BIG ASSIST

Guam’s national boys and girls U19 basketball teams are prepped and ready to play in Fiji come December and the Guam National Olympic Committee (GNOC) announced Tuesday afternoon some great news that will help the 20 boys and girls on their venture.

By Robert Balajadia

Guam’s national boys and girls U19 basketball teams are prepped and ready to play in Fiji come December and the Guam National Olympic Committee (GNOC) announced Tuesday afternoon some great news that will help the 20 boys and girls on their venture.

GNOC’s president Ric Blas hosted a small gathering at the GNOC office awarding the boys and girls on the team an envelope with a ticket itinerary letting them know that their entire airfare was going to be taken care of, courtesy of the Olympic Solidarity grant and GNOC.

“It all started out when I went to their car wash and [Tony Thompson] told me that they were fundraising for the FIBA Oceania U19 Tournament and, because it is a youth program, I felt it was very important to provide some type of funding for them. The International Olympic Committee was very eager to learn that we were supporting a youth program,” said Blas on the story behind GNOC’s big help.

Blas explained that the grant was approved over a week ago and not even Thompson, Guam Basketball’s President, knew the grant was awarded to the team until the official meeting when Blas presented the letters to the kids.

The U19 team of boys, girls, coaches, and GNOC's Ric Blas. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

The U19 team of boys, girls, coaches, and GNOC’s Ric Blas. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

“It was important to gather the kids here to let them understand that who is behind them and why we were doing it and it’s all for the athletes, which is why we’re doing it,” added Blas.

A good portion of the U19 girls basketball team is made up of girls who made their National Team debut with Guam during the 2014 Micro Games where they dominated the competition, bringing home gold. The girls also impressed many during the 3vs3 Tournament in Nanjing, China.

Though this is going to be the first U19 games this group of girls are going to be competing in, Blas was more than impressed with their talent which provided strong points in his decision to fully back the players.

“These girls demonstrated a good working relationship to foster the development of a future basketball team. Also, their performance at the Nanjing youth games gave them greater support and got my attention,” said Blas.

Although parents have begun to pay for their kids ticket for Fiji, Blas explained that they will be reimbursed.

Destination Fiji

The girls team will be made up of current high school standouts like Destiny Castro and Kali Benavente, but flying with them will be middle schooler Mia San Nicolas, who helped pioneer her Bishop Obispos to an undefeated season. Here is the entire girls roster with the numbers they will be sporting:

– Kali Benavente (4)
– Carline Poppe (5)
– Tonni Arellano (6)
– Dyonni Quitugua (7)
– Jasie Villanueva (8)
– Mia San Nicolas (9)
– Destiny Castro (10)
– Rosita Duenas (11)
– Brittany Meno (13)
– Angelica Bautista (14)

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Caroline Poppe, Tonni Arellano, Jasie Villanueva, Dyonni Quitugua, and Brittany Meno. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

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Angelica Bautista, Rosita Duenas, Kali Benavente, Destiny Castro, and Mia San Nicolas. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

The boys team also has a wealth of talent including former JFK Islander and IIAAG 2014 MVP Kurtis Silva and former Okkodo Bulldogs big man Jeddou Antonio. Not all the boys were in attendance for the meeting. Here is the complete list of ballers to represent Guam:

– Jeddou Antonio
– Christian Chang
– David Sakazaki
– Kurtis Silva
– Ricky Pak
– Tristan Jose
– Kobe Sotelo
– Vern Gustilo
– Billy Belger
– Justin Dimla

The first and second place finishers of this U19 Tournament will qualify for the future world championships.

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Jeddou Antonio, Tristan Jose, & Vern Gustilo. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

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Ricky Pak, David Sakazaki, and Justin Dimla. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

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