Port Vila - The Vanuatu National Men’s and Women’s 3x3 teams left Vanuatu on Wednesday destined for China and the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup 2018. It's a momentous occasion for the Vanuatu Basketball Federation to have senior teams representing at this level for the first time and both teams are eager to perform well on the international stage.
Both teams will need to go through qualifying in order to make it to the main event - however win or lose both teams are extremely happy for the experience of international competition, the development of the sport in Vanuatu, and the opportunity to represent their country overseas.
"This is a big opportunity for these players to test themselves against the best 3x3 players in Asia" FIBA Oceania Development Manager Annie LaFleur commented. "Vanuatu women are fresh off a bronze medal at the Pacific mini-games in December, so confidence is high and they enter this competition knowing they can draw off that experience"
The men’s team of Aaron Daniel, Hensley Vira, Manoah Moli, and Jared Ova will start their qualifying tournament on the 27th of April, and the women’s team of Nancy Patterson, Lola Izono, Pauline Malanga, and Jesse Malverus will start their qualifying tournament on the 28th of April.
If Vanuatu wins their pool of the qualifying tournament, they will take part in the main draw of the Asia cup. The men are in Pool A and will face Sri Lanka, South Korea, Malaysia, Uzbekistan, and Thailand on the road to the main draw. The women’s Pool A qualifying draw opponents are Mongolia, Uzbekistan, and Hong Kong.
This is the first time that the senior teams have represented Vanuatu in 3x3 basketball internationally. An under 18 team was sent to Singapore in 2010. It is a large step forward for the Vanuatu Basketball Federation, who with the help of the Vanuatu Olympic Committee, is very happy to be able to send both teams overseas to promote Vanuatu Basketball on the international stage.
"3x3 is a key focus area for Vanuatu Basketball Federation. The 3x3 event during the Pacific mini-games was a major success with many people commenting on how great the atmosphere was and the excitement it generated for the sport." Wade Taylor, Vanuatu Basketball Secretary commented. "I'm really looking forward to seeing them represent their nation with pride over the next few days"
The 2018 Asia Cup, staged in Shenzhen, China, will mark the 3rd edition of the competition. Previously in 2017, Mongolia beat out New Zealand and Australia to take the gold medal. The tournament is a step on the road to the 3x3 World Cup, with the winner automatically qualifying.