Meet the Pacific’s up and coming women’s basketball stars

GOLD COAST - In the second instalment profiling the players attending the inaugural FIBA Pacific Youth Leaders (PYL) Basketball Camp on the Gold Coast, Australia from September 2nd-11th, FIBA caught up with another four women from the Pacific region.

Normalisa Dobunaba (Papua New Guinea), Rosa Kairi (Papua New Guinea), Jan-Nasia Travilla (Northern Marianas) and Turia Nakuau (Kiribati) shared their experiences in pursuing their love of basketball.

Dobunaba represented Papua New Guinea at the 2014 FIBA U18 Oceania tournament, and it remains one of her biggest achievements to date.

“It was a real challenging at the time,” Dobunaba said of the competition.

“To show our fellow family, friends and team mates back home that we still had it, even though we only had half the team who traveled to Fiji, we never let down and fought until the last blow.”

Basketball is a lot more than a sport for Dobunaba.

“I spent most of my time at the court, even when I don't feel like spending the day there. But I spent it there even when I am mad it still puts a smile on my face,” Dobunaba explained.

“Good and bad times, my commitment and support will always be a helping hand. Basketball is my best friend, number one friend and the world to me.”

Dobunaba hopes to learn as much as possible at the PYL camp, skills she can then pass onto her family and teammates.

Kairi has played for Papua New Guinea across the world, including at the FIBA Oceania Junior Championships and the South Pacific Games. Representing her nation means brings great pride to Kairi.

“I make my family and community proud by representing them in a national team or eventually representing my country,” Kairi outlined.

“This gives me honour of where I come from.”

Kairi aims to set up a youth clinic, using the skills she learns at the PYL camp, and she also has high ambitions for the game of basketball.

“I always say that playing basketball is my boyfriend,” Kairi said.

“I would like to learn about more basic skills of how to play basketball, more than I can imagine. That way, it helps me to become a good player in the future. Not just that, but a star.”

One of the more decorated members of the camp, Travilla played for the U18 Northern Marianas side when she was 13, and also won three MVP awards in one season. The sport has a special place in Travilla’s heart and has been a large part of her life.

“Playing basketball has brought so many great friends and teammates I wouldn't trade for the world,” Travilla said.

“I've been playing since I was 5 years old and it's more than just a ball and hoop to me.”

Travilla’s disciplined nature is one of her strengths, and she hopes the attributes she acquires at the PYL camp can assist others back home.

“I would share the things that I learned with my teammates and I will help them understand the game better,” Travilla outlined.

Nakuau has been playing basketball in her community of Nawerewere, and hopes to support the development of youth talent in her native nation of Kiribati.

“At the end of the camp I will return home with any skills that I learned, and I would like to share them with my team or community,” Nakuau explained.

“With the skills that I get, my team and community will not only be playing better, but will also become more competitive.” Nakuau has a strong bond to the game of basketball and it allows her to set, and reach, new goals.

“It means a lot to me.” Nakuau further expressed.

“I have a passion for it, that sets a motivation for me to go for the top every time. If I held the ball in my hands, I suppose basketball is all I ever thought about since the first time I played it. Basketball is my dream.”

About FIBA

FIBA ( – the world governing body for basketball – is an independent association formed by 215 National Basketball Federations throughout the world. It is recognised as the sole competent authority in basketball by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

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