The American Samoa Basketball Association (ASBA) under the management of president Milton Taufa'asau returned home this past Friday with not one, but two Championship titles in separate divisional competitions. ASBA prepped and readied four teams to represent American Samoa in Samoa's Independence Day Celebration last week, and they returned to the motherland this past weekend with much more than just honor - they came with bragging rights as well. Samoa News spoke to the secretary for ASBA, Paul Amituana'i - who noted that preparations for this journey took them four weeks. When asked about the selection of the teams to represent American Samoa in this event, Amituana'i said 'the Open Men and Women teams we selected to take with us - were picked from their overall performance during our previous Flag Day Basketball Tournament here on island.' He added 'all four teams we took with us, were the top teams in their divisional competitions during our previous Flag Day tournament'. Amituana'i said that the teams that competed in Samoa last week included an Under-18 Boys Team and an Under-18 Girls Team, managed under the supervision of Head Coaches Diehl Langkilde and Milton Taufa'asau. In the Open Divisional competition, ASBA selected the Open Mens Team - Pago Eagles, and the Open Womens Team - Ol Skool. The Women's team went on to be one of the victors in this annual event. Our local teams were welcomed with open arms according to Amituana'i, as they were hosted by Samoa's Basketball Association, at Rita's Lodge in Lotopa. A comfortable welcome was followed by a comfortable victory after two of the four teams that were selected came home with the Gold. 'For the young teams - our Under-18 Boys Team came out as Champions of their division after beating Samoa's Under-19 Team 39 - 18. Our Under-18 Girls Team came up short in 4th place', said Amituana'i. He added, 'There were only two teams in the Open Mens Division, and it was decided with a Best of 3 trial for our Pago Eagles, and Samoa's Open Mens Team. Unfortunately, Samoa won two straight victories to knock us out of the competition.
In the Open Womens Division, our Ol Skool represented us well, after cleaning house by clinching the first two wins within a Best out of 3 ruling by the board and officials.' According to Amituana'i, there were only two teams that competed in the Open Womens Division- our Ol Skool team and Samoa's team. 'We won the first game 40 - 20 - but the second game was a challenge. Their second meeting went into overtime, but our women's team managed to pull through and defeated Samoa's team 35-33 in overtime to officially close that divisional competition, as our girls were champions.' Samoa News asked Amituana'i what ASBA's main focus was, heading into this tournament, and he responded 'representing American Samoa was the overall morale that boosted all four teams to come to this tournament. Representing our island, our families, and communities here was the highlight of every athlete that was part of this event.' He went on to say, 'some of the players we took with us had their first experience within the International Basketball Tournaments - outside of American Samoa. We had a few veterans who participated, but it was nothing more nothing less - our focus was to win and nothing else.' Amituana'i concluded 'on behalf of the American Samoa Basketball Association, I'd like to send out our warmest acknowledgements and fa'afetai tele lava to the president of Samoa's Basketball Association, Tala Pauga for a great tournament and for their welcoming hospitality.' He concluded 'our thanks and acknowledgements also go out to all the parents and friends who helped out during our fundraising activities in the effort of making this trip possible - our gratitude as well goes out to the board members of our American Samoa Basketball Association - as well as Pago Eagles Coach and Manager Michael Pereira (ASBA Board Member) and Wally Taufa'asau. A special thanks also goes out to the Manager of Ol Skool's team Meleisha Purcell Telefoni as well as our local officials from the association that participated: Tevita Siale, Jacklyn Hunt, as well as myself.'
Courtesy of: Samoa Basketball Association