Jon Hoyle's Diary - Day Two

Traditionally, baseball is seen to be the national sport of Palau, but if that is the case, basketball cannot be too far behind. Especially over the last ten years the sport has forged ahead in popularity within the general community through a sound administration that has as its backbone a group of passionate basketball enthusiasts.

Two of the secrets of the success in growing the sport seems to be having successful leaders of the community as officials of the federation and an active and dynamic National Basketball Development Officer.

Past President Bill Keldermans is the manager of the shipping terminal while current President Frank Kyota runs Shell Oil and has been recently elected the President of the Palau National Olympic Committee.

Both are still passionate about the game and find the time in their busy lives to give back to the sport they love. Through their positions in the community they are able to gain the ear of politicians and members of the business community to help the sport grow.

But it is National Basketball Development Officer Kazuki "Topps" Sungino who has made the most impact at the grassroots level. Cleary the most dynamic of all the NBDO's employed by FIBA Oceania, a perusal of the yearly plan of the Palau Basketball Federation shows activities and competitions at every level: from a strong National Basketball League through to masters, business house and government department leagues, to inter and intra state tournaments, down to high school and elementary school competitions that comprise four divisions.

Men's and women's and boys and girls competitions are of equal importance and there is even the Jailhouse Rocks competition for the prisoners. Very impressive! With all these basketball activities that he coordinates, what surprised me most was when Topps casually mentioned that he also is a member of the Koror State legislature and is up for re-election later this year. The man must be full of energy as he also owns a store and a laundromat.

Basketball in Palau is fortunate to have people of this calibre involved in the sport.


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