Noumea (New Caledonia) - It will not be a walk in the park but Guam's U17 team has ultimately set its sight in duplicating the recent success of its senior team when it flies the flag high in the upcoming FIBA U17 Oceania Championship in New Caledonia.
The Guam men's team is coming off a championship sweep in the 2019 Pacific Games last month, calling its brothers from the U17 team to follow suit.
Of course, the dream is mirroring that recent triumph but head coach Brent Tipton is keeping his expectations in check in a bid to ease out the pressure from his wards.
"Every team's goal is to make it to the medal rounds so we must keep a growth mindset through pool play so we are prepared to compete in the qualifying round. We feel if we can be great in the little details of our play then that will set us up for greater success as the week progresses," he said on the upcoming eight-team Oceania joust set from August 18-24.
Guam's path to the coveted Oceania championship success, indeed, will be a long and bumpy road, especially with powerhouses Australia and New Zealand together with Samoa standing on their way in Group A.
Nevertheless, Tipton vows a determined squad to play hard until the final buzzer regardless of how strong the teams in front of them.
"From the first week we were together we discussed how the only two things we can control on the court are our attitude and effort. We want to have the reputation of being a fiercely hard-working team. We are in an extremely tough pool with Australia, New Zealand, and Samoa so we want to compete with toughness every possession," added Tipton.
To hold the fort against perennial Oceania contenders, Tipton will be banking on their month-long preparation built on stamina, speed and trapping defense.
Guam's full-court D and transition offense will ease out their size disadvantage, making it a favorable match for them if they wish to pull the rug from under giants like New Zealand and Australia.
"The team has put in a solid 4 weeks of training to prepare for the Oceania Championships. We have attempted to build a solid base of conditioning. We trust that our preparations will put them in the best situation to compete and we are excited to compete," emphasized Tripton.
"We are small so we want to play tenaciously on the defensive end by playing in the full-court, forcing teams to play with a short shot-clock and finish defensive possessions with a defensive rebound. To gain any advantage on the offensive end we need to be disruptive on the defensive end in creating live-ball turnovers. This will help us with our lack of size and enable us to play in transition," he added.
Out to lead the charge for Guam are veterans Colin Santiago, Brent San Nicolas, Dylan Trusso, and Isaiah Malig together with 14-year old Blaise Ada.
Guam is set to put on the finishing touches to its preparation this Wednesday before departing for New Caledonia on Saturday with an ultimate goal of competing against any given foe.
"We have been tapering our intensity duration during practice sessions to ensure the team is physically, mentally and emotionally ready to compete," Tripton concluded.