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BLAS, STINNETT GO PRO IN NEW ZEALAND

The dream of playing professional basketball has turned into quite the reality for two of Guam’s most prolific ballers in Joe Blas and William Stinnett after the pair had completed contract signings to play for the Hawks Bay IMS Payroll Hawkes in the New Zealand Basketball League for the 2016 season.

By Robert Balajadia

The dream of playing professional basketball has turned into quite the reality for two of Guam’s most prolific ballers in Joe Blas and William Stinnett after the pair had completed contract signings to play for the Hawks Bay IMS Payroll Hawkes in the New Zealand Basketball League for the 2016 season.

Both men signed their contracts earlier in the week and officially went public with the details after their Thursday afternoon ceremony at Adelup.

“For the first time ever in my life I get to just focus on basketball and that’s what I’m most excited about. It’s everyone’s dream to get paid to do what you love to do. I get to eat, sleep and breathe basketball. This whole process has been unreal,” said Blas on his reaction to going pro.

“I’m looking forward to the high level of competition we’re going to be facing. Our mindset now has to be aiming to excel since we already made the team. It’s a blessing really, but we still have a lot of hard work to put in during the next couple of months,” added Stinnett, who is also celebrating his birthday today.

Both ballers are a product of Guam Basketball having recently taken Guam to new heights winning the 2015 Pacific Games Gold medal as well as placing 3rd in the FIBA 3×3 Tournament in Australia a few months ago. During their time in Australia, the pair had began workouts with professional teams which led to their December signing.

“Out of all the places we tried out at, Hawkes Bay was the place we like the most. We felt most comfortable with it’s East Coast feeling and we really liked the people and scenery while spending just a short time there,” said Stinnett.

“We are very excited to welcome the both Willie and Joe to the Hawks family. I was able to meet and watch the guys scrimmage on their visit to Napier, New Zealand. Coach EJ Calvo and his players have been great ambassadors for the island, and showcasing the talent Guam produces,” said Jay Bratschi, the General Mangaer of the Hawkes.

The Tai Wesley Effect

Guam’s Tai Wesley gave Team Guam a definitive edge in the Pacific Games and has been one of the island’s biggest promoters in trying to draw local talent out into the professional scene. Wesley’s pitch to the team turned an idea into today’s reality where Guam ballers have become professional players.

It’s only fitting that the first game for the Hawks is up against Wesley’s Wellington Saints on March 13th.

“We want to give Tai the season’s first loss while we get the first win,” laughed Stinnett. “We really just want to evolve the game on Guam and we have a lot of props to give to Tai, EJ, Jin Han, Eddie Pelkey, and a bunch of others who helped pave the way for us to get here.”

“As one of the most dominant post players in both the Australia and New Zealand pro leagues, Wesley’s reputation as a Guam National player has opened the door for us and I hope to help more Guam players seek pro careers in the future. It will only help our National Team get better,” added Calvo.

Departure

Guam’s latest pro ballers are scheduled to leave towards the end of January, no later than February. The season begins on March 13 and will end May 29.

“I’ve never had training like this and I’ve never been able to be so committed to basketball for nearly five months straight, so hopefully this isn’t the best Joe Blas we’ve seen yet. Hopefully there’s still room for me to get better and thankfully I’ve been able to start this process while I’m still hitting my prime. I hope a lot of these kids understand that you can go somewhere from being a part of the Guam team,” said Blas.

“Now that we can wake up and focus on nothing other than basketball is going to transform us into a whole different, but better basketball player. That’s another thing we’re both looking forward to, seeing how we could become better basketball players. Both families on Guam and Chuuk have been really supportive and excited for me,” added Stinnett.

NOTE: This too means that Guam should get more familiar with the NBL, one of the top five basketball leagues around the world!

William Stinnett replicates his contract signing at Adelup, where the two pros met to officially announce their pro signing.

William Stinnett replicates his contract signing at Adelup, where the two pros met to officially announce their pro signing.

Joe Blas replicates his contract signing at Adelup, where the two pros met to officially announce their pro signing.

Joe Blas replicates his contract signing at Adelup, where the two pros met to officially announce their pro signing.

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