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BORJA READY FOR SENIOR YEAR AT OREGON

Basketball phenom ‘Big’ Ben Borja Jr. is had a short visit back to the island, but made his return to Southridge High School for his senior year in Orgeon early September. GSPN’s Jay Leon Guerrero caught up with Borja during his summer home.

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By Jay Leon Guerrero

Basketball phenom ‘Big’ Ben Borja Jr. had a short visit back to the island, but made his return to Southridge High School for his senior year in Orgeon early September.

The 6’7″ Okkodo High School standout left Guam after his sophomore year to live with his brother Kea Colburn in Oregon where he played varsity high school basketball for the Skyhawks.

Borja spent this summer with his parents, who reside on Guam, and played a few basketball tournaments during his stay. ‘Big’ Ben also worked out with the national team while on island.

“I got a chance to work out with the Guam National team and I really can’t wait to play for Guam in the future,” said Borja.

At just 17-years-old, Borja is just one of many Guamanian standouts still attending high school. Coach EJ Calvo, coming fresh off a Pacific Games gold medal victory in Papua New Guinea, is already harvesting future talent for team Guam.

Calvo and the Guam team continue to work out and recently hosted and played in a 3X3 basketball tournament.

“We’ve been keeping in touch with Ben even before he left for Oregon. While he was here, we had some good workouts, guides and did drills,” said Calvo.

“I played in the 3×3 tournament and unfortunately my team called BCB Equipment Service Ballers lost in the semis to the Tooth Fairies.”

Borja joined teammates Jin Han, Vince Estella and Rashaun Blas. All members of his team are members of the National Team pool and each are born in different decades with Han born in the 70s, Estella 80s, Blas 90s and Borja in the 2000s.

“I enjoyed the tournament, we lost to a good team composed of Seve Susuico, James Stake and Earvin Jose.” All three members of the Tooth Fairies are also National Team pool members.

Workout with Team Guam

“I got a chance to workout with the guys on the team, they were very welcoming and willing to share their knowledge and advice.” Borja said that he received good advice from his potential future teammates during the workouts. “Will Stinnett had encouraging advice for me and told me that basketball is a learning process.”

“The culture here is good. Everyone is willing to work together for what benefits the team,” said Calvo.

Calvo said Borja showed much potential, showing all-around skills during the workouts.

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Ben Borja enjoying his time around the island during his stay over summer. (courtesy photo)

“Of course, he is really strong when it comes to shot blocking and rebounding; but he also moves well and has great touch to his jump shot”.

Coach Calvo also gave Borja great workout tips and showed the young big man some new moves.

“I learned so much from Coach EJ, some moves I’ve never seen before. He also told me to work on my guard skills because when I play games in the US, some guards are my size,” said Borja.

Calvo hopes Borja can find the right fit for his game as he searches for the right school to attend for college.

“Three of our national players currently play college ball, we hope Ben follows and gets into a good program.”

Pacific Games gold medalists and Guam’s youngest squad members include Joey Galloway (UC Irvine), Kyle Husslein (University of Redlands) and Michael Sakazaki (Chaminade). All are currently abroad and playing basketball for their school.

Always a Bulldog

Borja got the chance to visit his friends and former classmates from high school during orientation week last month. He said his former school teammates urged him to stay on Guam to join them for basketball season in February, but Borja said he must return to Oregon.

“Most of them were joking, but some were really serious,” said Borja. “It was really great seeing everyone, I am and always will be a Bulldog”.

Stay tuned to GSPN to follow the progress of ‘Big’ Ben. The Southridge Skyhawks season runs from November to February. As Borja returns to school, he will start pre-season workouts with his brother and guardian Kea Colburn.

“I’ve learned from last season, I’m coming in more confident.”

 

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Since forming the GNYFF in 2009, the league has never gone without a season until 2020. The league announced their plans to cancel the 2020 season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

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RIP: Former Guam football player Phil Mendiola, shown here with son Tano, passed away in Las Vegas due to a heart attack. Mendiola played for numerous Guam teams from youth to varsity. He was 39.
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Morgan McKenna (left with black face mask) poses for a photo with Guam Football Association Technical Director Sang Hoon Kim (seated, with blue face mask) and Guam Football Association Assistant Technical Director Ross Awa (standing) after signing his letter of commitment to play intercollegiate men’s soccer for Muskingum University in Ohio. The Fighting Muskies compete in NCAA Division III’s Ohio Athletic Conference.

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