Junior Ready for Senior Basketball Challenge

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea - Twenty-year-old James Banduru Jnr. admits he was surprised to read his name on the PNG Men’s National Team final list for the FIBA Melanesia Basketball Cup.

“I’ll be honest, there were a few things I wasn’t doing right regarding execution in the three-day training camp we had recently.” Banduru acknowledged.

“I always tried to give my best effort though and I’m thankful to the selectors for noticing that. Now that I am picked, I’ll make sure I perform to the best of my ability for my country and our people.”

Banduru, who goes by ‘Junior’ with coaches and teammates, will be making his senior international debut for Papua New Guinea when the FIBA Melanesia Basketball Cup tips off later this month.

The 205cm center previously represented the nation as a junior back in 2014, competing in the FIBA Oceania Under 18 Championships held in Fiji. Since then he has been continuing his basketball development with the Tamaraws club in the PMBL.

Since earning selection in the PNG men’s squad following the recent National Championships, Banduru has been working hard on shaping his body, shedding seven kilograms of body fat over the last month.

“One of the things we said to Junior going into this campaign was that he needed to have a major focus on improving his body and his diet,” PNG Men’s National Team Head Coach Joel Khalu said.

“To his credit that’s happened. He’s dropped noticeable weight and that's a good sign regarding his discipline and also the work he’s put in with the High-Performance team during our strength and conditioning sessions.”

One of the things a leaner Banduru is looking forward to during the Melanesia Cup, is the challenge of matching up with other ‘bigs’.

“I’m still learning how to play, so one of the things I hope to get out of this tournament is growing my skills by competing against taller players, at both ends of the court.”

“I’ve been lucky to have great role models like Robert Kave, Dia Muri & Joe Elavo challenge me in training to be like them or be better than them. Now I want to see how I stack-up against other Pacific players.”

It’s still early days in his international playing career, but Banduru’s long-term goal in the sport is simple.

“I want to become the kind of player people expect me to be. Somebody who is seen as a treat to watch as soon as I step on the court.”

The Papua New Guinea Men’s National Team will open the FIBA Melanesia Basketball Cup against the Solomon Islands on Wednesday, September 27 at the Taurama Aquatic & Indoor Centre.


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