Fiji will host the 2003 South Pacific Games, national men's and women's Basketball teams will be out to beat Samoa at the 2003 South Pacific Games to register a spot in the Athens Olympic Games play-offs against Australia and New Zealand. With two spots being given to Oceania countries, Fiji Amateur Basketball Federation believe they have a very good chance of qualifying for the play-offs as well as the 2004 Olympic Games.
Here are the groups for the SPG 2003:
Pool A - Fiji, Guam, Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands, PNG, FSM
Pool B - Samoa, New Caledonia, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Tahiti.
Fiji women's Basketball team coach Paul Whippy said with recent results from the Under-22 championships, they have an ability to accompany giants Australia to Athens. While the national men's coach Michael Whippy said they would face tough opposition from Samoa while New Zealand and Australian men would be very hard to beat.
"Countries like New Caledonia, Tahiti and Guam are not eligible to compete for the Olympic play-off spots,'' Michael said. "Because Tahiti and New Caledonia are French territory while Guam is an American state, these countries don't qualify under the Olympic charter to compete. "Even though these island countries will be competing at the SPG meet, the only other team to beat will be Samoa.'' Michael said Samoa will have a lot of players who are based in America who will be playing for them. He said people know the type of Basketball that is played in America and Samoa will have a lot of influence on their side. "For that reason we have couple of our players-based in America who are playing and learning basketball there,'' Michael said. "Currently we have Simon Compain and Frank Saketa based in America and their coaches have been very impressed with the two. "Reports from America have shown remarkable improvement in these two players and they will definitely return back to Fiji for the SPG meet. "We have Robert Tusxon, who was the star of the Fiji team which played in Hawaii also playing in America and he will also be back again for the Games.''
Michael said all players have shown commitment in their training and they are aiming to win a medal before their home fans