The Guam men's basketball team is hungry for more top-level competition after competing a clean sweep of their opposition at the FIBA Asia Cup pre-qualifying tournament in Thailand.
The US Territory beat Fiji, Singapore and Thailand in the first round before defeating Indonesia, Macau and Malaysia in the second to finish with a perfect 6-0 record.
After finishing top of the Eastern Region event at the weekend, coach EJ Calvo's team now advance to the final round of qualifying for the 2021 Asia Cup at the end of next year.
"The Micronesia and the Pacific region have been our primary competition for years and we've felt for a while that we, if given the chance, can compete at the higher level and also use that to motivate us to bolster and improve the programme," he said.
"When we got this opportunity we waited patiently, finally got the competition confirmed for the end of 2018 and gathered a team together and were able to go and have a successful result in our first showing in FIBA Asia."
Guam and Fiji were invited to compete in FIBA Asia for the first time after contesting the final of the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby.
EJ Calvo said Guam have been wanting to test themselves on the global stage for a long time.
"We were confident in our players, on paper especially, but in the game of basketball the more you get to play together and work together to build synergy the better prepared you will be," he said.
"That's always our biggest concern because Guam is such a small island and not being in college basketball or professional basketball in Guam a lot of our players compete outside of Guam throughout the year.
"I told my minister to improve our funding, consistent funding, so that we can bring the players together more frequently and conduct more training camps. Usually the only time we get together is competitions - specifically last week we had half the team introduce themselves once again. Although we played together in the past we basically meet up the day before our first game and make sure we're on the same page as much as possible before we compete."
EJ Calvo paid a special tribute to New Zealand Breakers forward Tai Wesley, who flew from Australia to represent Guam alongside his older brothers Mekeli and Russell.
"It was very special. They've grown up around the game together," he said.
"You could just see how they compete together and it's always good to keep the Wesley's on the same team otherwise they might get too physical with each other," Calvo joked.
"So having the brothers play together and really take a leadership role with a lot of our younger players and set the example because of their experience in their basketball careers."
"He had a game in Perth the night before he flew over to Bangkok and so I went ahead and sat him completely and did not play him the first game, just so he could get some rest but at least he got to watch the team compete (against Fiji) then he played a handful of games," recalled Calvo."
Guam's success proved to be a welcome dose of good news for Wesley, who was fined $NZ1000 for comments made to referee following last month's NBL double-header loss to the Perth Wildcats, prior to the international break.
EJ Calvo said the next major focus for the Guam team is defending their 2015 Pacific Games gold medal in Samoa next year.