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MEN’S HOOPS READY TO DEFEND GOLD

3×3, 5×5 teams all set for Pacific Games

By Paradis Jolie Fejerang

Note: Rosters and added information provided by Guam Basketball

Guam’s men’s national basketball teams hosted an open practice before sending their athletes off to compete in the Pacific Games. Both the women and men teams will be heading out to the Solomon Islands for the 2023 Pacific Games. 

Veteran and new members will compete in the 3×3 and 5×5 basketball competitions after a stop in Manila to meet up with the off-island team members to have a few days of practice together prior to competing.

Off-island members consist of college students as well as Guamanians working away from home who are training hard where they can before meeting up with the rest of their team to represent the island.

Men’s 3 x 3

This year will be the second ever 3 x 3 basketball competition hosted by Pacific Games. Having only begun at the last games in 2019, which took place in Samoa, the Guam team took the gold.

The crew for this year, consists of two returnees from the champion squad, Michael Sakazaki and Ben Borja. The duo is looking to defend their champion title, this time with two new members in Reo Aiken and Mark Johnson. All four teammates are on the island, able to practice together for the past year in preparation for defending Guam’s 3×3 title.

For Sakazaki, this will be his third time representing Guam at the Pacific Games. “I’m stoked to go back [to the Pacific Games], put the jersey on and rep Guam. It’s always an honor. It’s always a privilege, to say the least,” Sakazaki shares his enthusiasm to head to the Solomon Islands with this year’s 3×3 team and thanks to his predecessors. “The guys before us definitely built the program and empowered us to carry it forward.”

Sakazaki also adds that part of his excitement stems from the team’s overall versatility. The team of four has an average height of 6’4” (195.5 cm) and a well-rounded skill set to conquer offensively and each being able to step in defensively where needed.

Guam Men’s 3×3 Team

  • Ben Borja (2019 Gold Medalist – 2019)
  • Michael Sakazaki (2019 Gold Medalist – 2019)
  • Mark Johnson
  • Reo Aiken

The Guam Men’s 3X3 Team brought home Gold at the first ever 3X3 Tournament of the Pacific Games in 2019. They are focused on repeating that success in 2023. Returning to action will be Ben Borja & Mike Sakazaki, joined by Mark Johnson & Reo Aiken. This squad is expected to have a size advantage and they are ready to make another run at the Gold.

Guam Women’s 3×3 Team

  • Joylyn Pangilinan
  • A’Lura Hernandez
  • Kailie Celo

Our Guam Women’s 3X3 Team is ready to make a statement at this year’s Pacific Games Tournament.

Men’s 5 x 5

The men are hoping to make history as they are the current 5×5 back-to-back gold medalists and are looking to accomplish a feat no other team has been able to in winning for a third year in a row.

Consisting of men who have all played together in the past, there is a lot of confidence amongst the team backed by experience and an important comfortability and trust in each other. The mix of fresh national team members alongside seasoned Pacific Game medalists creates a high energy reunion that is eager to claim another gold for Guam.

“It’s going to be a different experience for me, but I’m excited for the next-level competition,” shares second-year member Aljurell Grape.

“We’re a really close team. We’re like brothers on the team,” Reo Aiken adds his fervor in being part of a team that is fairly young and, yet, very experienced in working together. “I feel like it’s going to be fun and we have good chemistry right from the start.

The teammates consider this coming together of “the best of the best” and know that when everyone is able to finally meet together in Manila, it will not be anything like meeting a stranger as most of them have been competing with and against each other since they started in the sport.

Guam Men’s 5X5 Team

Head Coach E.J. Calvo, along with his coaching staff, has assembled a squad to pursue a Third-Straight 5X5 Gold Medal, after going undefeated in 2019:

  • Tomas Calvo (Point Guard)
  • Takumi Simon (Shooting Guard)
  • Reo Aiken (Shooting Guard)
  • Alschea Grape (Point Guard)
  • Aljurrel Grape (Shooting Guard)
  • Jahmar White (Guard)
  • Jonathan Galloway (Center)
  • Tai Wesley (Forward/Center)
  • Mekeli Wesley (Center)
  • Mark Johnson (Guard/Forward)
  • Daniel Del Carmen (Guard)

The team is excited about the diverse skill and talent this roster brings to the court. It features a blend of returning players to the Pacific Games with Gold-Medal pedigree along with a young, talented selection.

“We’ve assembled a roster that we believe can defend our Gold Medal and continue our success in the Pacific”, said Head Coach E.J. Calvo. “Our players have been working hard, and we are grateful for the opportunity to compete at another Pacific Games.”

Guam Women’s 5X5 Team

Head Coach Arleen Mad, has carefully selected the following players on a mission to take the podium at the Pacific Games for the first time since 1999 (Bronze):

  • Brianna Crisostomo (Guard/Forward)
  • Destiny Castro (Guard)
  • Kathryn Castro (Center)
  • Kara Duenas (Guard)
  • Joylyn Pangilinan (Guard)
  • Jocelyn Pardilla (Point Guard)
  • Britney Bailey (Forward/Center)
  • Ashley Batac (Guard)
  • Talia Astorga (Forward/Center)
  • A’Lura Hernandez (Guard/Forward)
  • Kailie Celo (Guard)

Coach Arleen Mad added, “The selection process was incredibly challenging, but we are happy to have 6 returning players to the Pacific Games. We believe we’ve put together a roster that reflects the spirit and commitment of our team, and we can’t wait to welcome several newcomers to the team and represent our island. We are focused on reaching new heights for our Women’s National Basketball Program!”

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COMING SOON …

Guam Track & Field National Championship May 26

All-Island Wrestling Alumni Tournament June 8

10th Micronesian Games from Marjuro

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