This article discusses the international influence on the University of Hawaii men’s basketball team, with quotes from players and team affiliates as well as background information on each athlete.
By Sam Martin
The University of Hawaii (UH) men’s basketball team has had strong international ties throughout the years, recruiting multiple international players to join the roster. All of the international players that have gone through the program just testifies to the notion that the basketball team is a melting pot of cultures, just like the islands of Hawaii.
The game of basketball has always been an American sport. Basketball was born in America, the best professional basketball league in the world is in the United States and all of the best players in the world play in the United States. However, as time has passed the game of basketball has become a more internationally friendly game.
UH definitely has embraced international players with a total of 26 going through the basketball program in its entire 100-year history. On this year’s team seven players on the 16-man roster represent seven different international countries.
“It’s definitely a positive effect on the program,” sdaid Neal Iwamoto, when talking about the international players influence on the basketball program. Iwamoto covers the men’s basketball team for the Sports Media Relations department. “Most of the international players we have are national caliber players for their countries so they bring a wide range of skills. It also adds to the diversity of the program.”
Isaac Fotu, Christian Standhardinger, Manroop Clair, Michael Harper, Ozren Pavlovic, Vander Joaquim and Davis Rozitis are the Warriors first line of defense when it comes to the promotion of international basketball. They continue to show that international players can more than hold their own against American players.
Fotu, hailing from Torbay, New Zealand is a true freshman who comes to Hawaii after playing for the New Zealand National Team as a 17 year old. Harper comes from Melbourne, Austrialia where he played at Trinity Grammar School.
Standhardinger is a junior from Munich, Germany and started his college basketball career at Nebraska. He is playing his first season with the Warriors after sitting out last year due to NCAA transfer rules. Rozitis, a former transfer from the University of Southern California, hails from Cesis, Latvia and enters his second season with UH.
Clair, a true freshman, comes to Hawaii from Vancouver, B.C. However, he played his high school basketball in West Virginia. Pavlovic, also a freshman, from Zagreb, Croatia comes to UH after much success in the Croatian junior league.
Lastly, senior, center and All-WAC first team selection last year, Vander Joaquim is originally for Luanda, Angola. Joaquim played his final two years of high school basketball in the U.S. Joaquim is the oldest international born player on the roster and is entering his third year with the program after playing his freshman season at a junior college in Utah.
There is no mistake that the international player’s bring their own flavor not only on to the court but also to the culture and chemistry of the team.
“Everyone brings something new and special to the mix and I think that’s just great to build the best team possible,” said Rozitis, the junior center for the warriors when talking about the effect all the different cultures have on team chemistry. “When talking about the team chemistry, we just take the best out of all the cultures and backgrounds. Diversity is good for all of us.”
Although the players all may come from different places and backgrounds, the game of basketball has brought them together for one common goal and that is to win basketball games.
Like a lot of internationally prominent sports such as soccer and now basketball, players can come from all corners of the earth and speak whatever language. The one constant that all those players have in common, is as soon as they step on that court/ field, they quickly realize the game is a universal language.
For more information on the men’s basketball team visit hawaiiathletics.com