By TRAVERTZ MABONE
TELIKOM (PNG) Limited came in with a timely boost yesterday to assist with a K15,000 sponsorship to the PNG basketball development squad who will be travelling to Cairns, Australia, this afternoon.
The sponsorship will cover airfares for 11 players and three officials who will be taking part in exhibition matches during the Far North Queensland All Stars competition starting this weekend, with their first match to be played tomorrow evening.
The young men taking part consist mainly of Port Moresby-based players and Unitech students Steven Siola, Sibona Kala and Tony Bland from the Sogeri Basketball Association.
This will be the fourth year running for PNG’s attendance as part of the programme and this time a more serious outlook for the team and basketball development in PNG will be focused.
One of the most experienced players in the team Peter Davani said yesterday that the tournament would be one of the toughest they would be facing.
However, the boys have been preparing well since last November.
“We never had this kind of preparations before and I am sure the guys can go out there and show them that we can compete.
The team will be traveling as the “Telikom Papuan Blacks” under one of Papua New Guinea’s most experienced coaches Moses Koiri and will be the brand ambassadors for the new “Kumul Card”.
Koiri outlined that the trip to Cairns were vital for the basketball development in PNG as it was most cost-efficient, a good place to breed players, and a best place to develop a team.
He added he would like to see something good come out of it as it was the beginning of a programme for the Basketball Federation PNG.
The team mostly comprises of young talent who will be developed for the likely inclusion in the 2015 South Pacific Games here in PNG.
The PNG side had been competing since 2007 when team manager Nick Daroa initiated the proposal after PNG got omitted from the South Pacific Games in Samoa and have been doing quite well so far.
“That is why we are always being invited back,” Davani said.
In thanking Telikom PNG for coming in as the major sponsors for the first time with basketball, Daroa said: “We are trying to build a base where we can draw good players from and such commitment from Telikom ensures a brighter future for basketball development in PNG.”