FIBA funds boost

THE FIBA Oceania Pacific Youth Basketball Championships received a leg up just days before its opening ceremony with a $15,000 funding boost from the State Government’s Significant Sporting Events Program.

Latrobe City councillor Darrell White, Deputy Mayor Sharon Gibson and FIBA special projects manager Judy Smith were on hand for the announcement by State Member for Morwell Russell Northe at Latrobe Leisure Churchill yesterday, ahead of Monday’s tip off.

Ms Smith said the funding would greatly assist in managing the expenses of the event, which she guaranteed would offer a rare international exchange for Latrobe Valley residents.

“Our philosophy for this event is that ‘it’s more than a basketball game’; it’s about building friendships across the Pacific (and) it’s a cultural experience,” she said.

“People will be able to meet Pacific Island kids, talk to them and appreciate they live a different style of life to Australia but on the court they’ll see that they’re really athletic and competitive basketball players as well.”

The tournament, based at Latrobe Leisure Churchill, will host about 300 competitors from eight nations across the South Pacific.

Cr Gibson said the benefit to the region would be significant from an economic and sporting standpoint.

“The funding is $15,000 but in terms of what we get back… it’s a huge amount,” she said.

“It showcases the Valley (and) what we have to offer; people will get to see just how good our Valley is.”

Teams arrive on Saturday and games start on Monday, with the finals to be held next Saturday.

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