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Get some ideas from Palau for a successful Basketball Federation - Jul 5, 2006

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At the recent Micronesian Games Basketball Competition, Palau Basketball reaped the rewards of a planned and well organised approach to the development of basketball in their country.
Both the women's team and men's team returned to Koror after the games with Silver medals - the only delegation in the basketball competition to finish the tournament with a double medal tally.
The performance of the Palau men in seriously challenging Guam in the Gold medal game is proof of some good progress in Palau. For many years, Guam have been the measuring stick for men's basketball in the Micronesian region and while they once again returned home with the gold, Palau made a serious challenge for the number one ranking.
In further evidence of the good progress being made in Palau, the four Palauan referees who officiated at the tournament were amongst the best at the event. Only international neutrality requirements, prevented the officials from being rewarded for their performance with gold medal games.
Visitors to Palau last year for the Pacific Mini Games will have witnessed how popular the sport of basketball is in the country and the Palau National Gym is a fine example of a well-built and appropriate facility which caters for the needs of the sport but also recognises the economic circumstances of the nation.
So what is the source of the basketball success in Palau?
There is no secret formula! In Palau they have a number of dedicated volunteers (just like you have in your country) and one paid employee NBDO Topps Sungino.
According to Topps the secrets to their recent improvement in basketball revolve around making good use of the many resources that are made available by FIBA, by FIBA Oceania and by the ZDO Stuart Manwaring on his annual visits to the region. In fact Topps paid tribute to the leadership and support provide by FIBA Oceania, but the truth is that this has been no different for Palau than it has been to our other federations. The results have been very different in Palau, obviously then, it is the Palauans who are making the difference.
Palau runs a National Basketball League (NBL) for men and women and the leagues run for approximately 6 months of the year. There has been a concerted campaign over recent years to extend the season in the belief that the more games you play, the better you get. Then other recent initiative has been to break the competition into divisions, so that the best teams get to play against the best, to help raise the standard of competition and of athlete skills.
In addition, Palau basketball never loses the opportunity to play games against international opponents. Sometimes these are visiting US and Taiwanese military ships, sometimes they are travelling teams like the Harlem Ambassadors who played before a packed house in Koror in 2005.
Topps also acknowledges the assistance provided for the growth of their programs by the Palau referees program lead by Myers Techitong and Sinton Soalablai. They believe that better referees make for better competition, which makes for better players and coaches.
Palau has an interesting system of making sure that they meet with their referees on a regular basis. Their officials are not paid after each game they call. They receive their pay fortnightly and only after they have attended a referee's meeting. Here the heads of the referee's association talk about things which have happened in the last two weeks, emphasise things which need to be worked on or talk about rule changes or new interpretations or points of emphasis.
Part of the success of Palau is their feeder system into their national program. High School boys and girls take part in school leagues which run for 8 to 10 games and in addition, during the summer vacation they take part in hamlet of village leagues which may give them as many games again to play. Topps says that about  

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