• Jamal Vira (VASANOC)

Vanuatu leading the charge in 3x3 basketball in the Pacific region

VANUATU - Vanuatu Basketball Federation (VBF) is currently ranked the third best 3x3 squad in the Oceania region behind powerhouse countries Australia and New Zealand.

Despite barely having 100 registered players, Vanuatu is also ranked 50th in the 3x3 world ranking ahead traditional 5x5 contenders Greece, Canada, and Croatia.

"We feel very proud to put the country’s name and flag on the front scene, just behind powerhouses like Australia and New Zealand. Now people in basketball are progressively getting to know who we are, where the country is located," said VBF National Basketball Development Officer, Sacha Dutu.

Dutu started his post with VBF as their NBDO with no program in place but saw the potential in 3x3 basketball. He quickly focused on developing a 3x3 program to re-energize the basketball scene in Vanuatu.

"We started from scratch. No competitions, no players ranked. So first of all, we needed to organize competitions. FIBA 3x3 ranking take your personal nine best tournaments rankings points out of all the tournaments that you’ve been playing for the last 12 months," shared Dutu.

"This is why we came out with the idea of organizing an annual 3x3 tour, with a monthly open senior tournament every first Saturday of the month, from February till December, featuring a total of 10 dates," he added.

The consistency and dedication of VBF to their program led to an unprecedented ranking in the world stage in less than a year.

FIBA Development Manager, and Oceania lead on 3x3, Annie La Fleur commended VBF's efforts and believes that other Pacific nations can follow the program and competition model that the federation has started.

"We are very impressed with the 3x3 program of VBF. The dedication of the federation has brought them to where they are at the moment," said La Fleur.

"What's more exciting for 3x3 basketball is, it will make its debut in the 2019 Pacific Games and I look forward to seeing how Vanuatu will perform next year," she added.

Dutu has been promoting and pushing the 3x3 program to the forefront of the VBF's focus because of his belief in the program's viability in their country.

"Our tournaments are made as a moment where the whole community is invited to join us. People that do not necessarily play basketball often come to try, as 3x3 is less difficult for anyone to play rather 5on5," beamed Dutu.

"The game is made for them. You have more opportunities to shoot, to show off your skills," he added.

The French native promised that VBF will not rest on their laurels and will continue to improve their 3x3 programs.

"We are now concretely implementing our vision: "Bringing the game to all", with competitions and activities for people regardless their origins or capacities, and not only in the capital but we also plan to expand to more islands in the country," he shared.

"The National Team success and our world ranking is nothing but the reflection of our hard work and the player’s commitment to the game that they love," he ended.



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