Defending Pacific Games Women's Basketball Champions Team Fiji will be facing a tough battle to try and defend their title as number one at the 2019 Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa after the Basketball draws were announced last month.
Team Fiji will face off against hosts Samoa, Cook Islands and New Caledonia in Pool A while 2015 runner up America Samoa will face off against Guam, Papua New Guinea and Tahiti in Pool B.
Section Manager Apenisa Naitini said they had a very good squad which included experienced athletes and a few young upcoming talent.
"As a team we have set ourselves a goal which is to return with a Gold medal," he said.
"However we know it won't be easy because going into the 2019 Pacific Games as defending champions means all the other teams will be gunning for us."
Apenisa said the local based players have really stepped up their training while their overseas based players were doing well.
Team Fiji will have a very experienced side that includes sisters Mickaelar Mendez and Letava Whippy,Tiyana and Estelle Kainamoli, Losalini Katia, Bulou Miliakere Koyamainavure, Moana Liebregts, Valarie Nainima, ElenoaNaivalurua, VilisiTavu andKalesiTawake.
Meanwhile the Men's team will come up against Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tahiti in Pool B.
Hosts Samoa have been drawn alongside Tonga, Guam and New Caledonia in Pool A.
The basketball schedule is the first to be released for the Games, with 26 more sports to follow.
Each team will play three games in the round-robin phase, with the top team qualifying.
The teams which place second and third in each pool will play crossover qualifying finals for the right to advance to the semi-finals against one of the group champions.
The semi-final winners will then battle it out for gold and the semi-final losers for bronze.
Remaining teams will contest classification games to determine final finishing positions.
The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) worked alongside organisers to aid their preparations for the Games.
“We are happy to release the schedule and format to give teams ample time for preparation,” said FIBA Oceania competitions manager Amanda Jenkins.
"It’s going to be a spectacle and we are confident basketball will be one of the biggest events in the Pacific Games."
Samoa 2019 is due to take place from July 7 to 20.