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YOUTH WILL FUEL WOMENS BALL IN POHNPEI

Guam’s Women’s National Basketball team is ready to prove their youth does not mean a lack of experience as they prep to go for gold in the upcoming 2014 Micro Games in Pohnpei.

By Robert Balajadia

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As the Girls National Basketball team preps to defend their gold medal in the 2014 Micronesian Games in Pohnpei the biggest issue the girls might be dealing with is the inexperience of representing Guam with many of the players competing in the Micro Games for the first time and good chunk of the team still in high school!

A bulk of Guam’s Micro Games veterans aren’t making this go around, but the head coach and mastermind behind the team in Eddie Pelkey jumped at the opportunity to take over the team once he saw who were on the roster

“We’re approaching the games like everything else, we’re going there expecting to compete. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how much experience you have it just matters what you know about this game and how you can play it,” said Pelkey on dealing with inexperience issues.

Pelkey took over for former head coach Sid Guzman midway through the program as Guzman stepped down on his own accord.

“I think they’re adjusting fine since coach Guzman and I have similar basic philosophies so the transition is a lot smoother than people anticipated,” added Pelkey.

Coaching the national team is new to the defending champion FD Friars boys high school basketball coach, but coaching the girls on the team wasn’t ass difficult a transition given that Pelkey had pioneered the girls U18 team and had a lot of experience with how each of the girls play after going up against them as the head coach of the Academy Cougars.

IMG_4357“It doesn’t matter how old you are or how much experience you have it just matters what you know about this game and how you can play it.” – Guam Women’s National Head Coach Eddie Pelkey

Complete Micro Games Roster

Jocelyn Pardilla – Guard – team Captain
Kali Benavente – guard
Destiny Castro – guard
Sam Nauta – guard
Brittany Meno – guard
Crystal Pardilla – guard
Felicia Borja – forward
Alina Bonto – forward
Raelene Tajalle – guard
Kristene Villena – forward
Kathy Castro – center
Gemilie Ilao – guard ( torn acl, not traveling)

Though the experience may be lacking, veterans like Jocelyn Pardilla and Kat Castro are ready to lead the team in every way they can.

“It’s one of the more difficult things as far as communication,” said Pardilla on the teams biggest draw back. “It doesn’t need to be coached but communication needs to be more emphasized and everything else will come. The biggest thing for [Castro] and I is keeping the girls on the same page as far as communication.”

Girls National Team Captain Jocelyn Pardilla will be directing traffic all Micro Games lone. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Girls National Team Captain Jocelyn Pardilla will be directing traffic all Micro Games long. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

It’s not uncommon for a former player to become your coach, but Pardilla is reversing the roles being a coach and now a teammate. Pardilla, along with Pelkey, did coach the AOLG Cougars to two titles in 2011 and 2012 so some of the players Pardilla coached and coached against will now be teammates. When asked about the benefits of playing with her former players would help, Pardilla responded with great optimism.

“I think if we just work within the realm of our offense and defense we’ll do just fine. Being their coach has helped me be able to read and know the strength and weaknesses of my teammates.”

One of those former teammates is Alina Bonto, the 2013 Girls Basketball MVP. Bonto is preparing to play Division III College Basketball for a Whittier College in Southern California, but playing for the Guam National team for the first time something she’s going to relish in.

“I think we should take in the experience, but if we work together then we can accomplish our goals. We also have to follow under the guidance of our veteran players,” added Bonto.

Alina Bonto is one of the newest editions to the Women's National team.  (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Alina Bonto is one of the newest editions to the Women’s National team. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

The team also consists of basketball standout Destiny Castro who stole the show at the 2014 Far East Basketball Tournament winning MVP Honors despite her school, The ND Royals, barley cracking the top 5 teams.

Though majority of the girls haven’t been part of the Guam National team very long they are not strangers to playing basketball overseas with many having participated in 3 vs. 3 tournaments, which is becoming vastly popular, in various places in the world like Spain and Turkey

They’re also not just there to have fun, many of them are aiming for gold.

Pelkey ended saying “I think they understand the sense of pride that comes in representing our Island. The experience of our younger girls playing overseas is something they are going to fall back on and use it to aid our more experienced girls.”

The 2014 Micro Games are set to start after July 19th so keep up with all the action on GSPN!

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