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Northern Virginia women's basketball head coach joins Team Amerika Samoa

Photo Credit
Diana Heouix

(PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va.)—New blood joins Team Amerika Samoa with the selection of Northern Virginia Community College Women's Basketball Head Coach Uchenna Faumuina-Eze. He's been named as one of two assistant coaches for the American Samoa National Women’s Basketball Team.

"It's very exciting and humbling at the same time," Faumuina-Eze wrote from Prince William County, Va. "I am excited for the opportunity, not only to be a fresh new face but also to work with athletes who want to play and work hard. My goal is to help turn the Amerika Samoa Women's National Basketball team into a competitive team within the Pacific Region."

The search for the territory's best basketball athletes continues. Several tryouts have been held for the men's and women's national teams. Players who make the cut will represent American Samoa in the XV Pacific Games in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea July 4-18, 2015.

Head Coach of the national squad is Haili Ripley. Assistant Coaches are Faumuina-Eze and Forest Duldulao.

In a New Year's Eve e-mail, President of the American Samoa Basketball Association, Milton Taufa'asau, notified and congratulated Faumuina-Eze on his selection.

"With your combined experience, we look forward to developing a solid team," said Taufa'asau. "I strongly feel that our women's team will excel under...your combined leadership. Once again, Coach Uchenna, congratulations on being selected as an assistant coach… may the good Lord bless you and your family with being a great asset to ASBA and the American Samoa team."

Faumuina-Eze, father of one girl, Peninatautele, and one boy, Uchenna Jr., is in his first year as head coach at NOVA. Last season he served as assistant coach; he coached girls’ high school basketball for eight years. Faumuina-Eze was assistant girls’ basketball coach at Hylton High School. As head coach at Notre Dame Academy, he led Notre Dame to the postseason twice. Faumuina-Eze has coached numerous players who've went on to play collegiate and professional basketball, says the NOVA website.

A 1994 graduate of Hanau American High School, Germany, Faumuina-Eze attended Ellison High School in Killeen, Texas playing for former Coach Billy Gillispie. He started his college playing career at the University of Maryland-Mannheim Campus where he led the team in scoring and rebounds, before enlisting in the United States Air Force. While enlisted, Faumuina-Eze deployed on numerous assignments and played on the All Base Basketball team and was an All-Air Force Basketball candidate. He was discharged with a disability in 2010.

Faumuina-Eze graduated from Southern Virginia University in 2006, earning a Bachelor's Degree in Physical Education and Recreation Administration. He received his Master's Degree in Sports Administration from American Military University in 2011.

His "primary focus as a coach is to give athletes the basketball experience of a lifetime."

A military brat born in Portland, Ore., Faumuina-Eze said he grew up around Samoans and was practically adopted by the Tagovailoa family when he lived in Kalihi.

He and his Samoan wife Tuaialugameaiosiumu both carry the hyphenated surnames Faumuina-Eze. When they married, Uchenna and Tuai agreed to carry each other’s surnames to honor both their families. Tuai, born in Honolulu, Hawai'i, is from the Faumuina family of Lefaga, Falelatai, Afega and Neiafu, Samoa. The Eze surname is that of Uchenna's biological father, a high chief and member of Nigeria's royal family.

"Basketball runs in the family," said Uchenna.

His mother Thea, and Eddie, the father who raised him, both served in the U.S. Army and they played multiple sports including basketball. Uchenna played all his life. His daughter Penina, a freshman in high school, also plays the family sport.

Funding the trip to American Samoa is Coach Uchenna’s biggest obstacle. If all goes well, he plans to depart for Amerika Samoa in mid-April. He is contacting family, friends, businesses and sports organizations across the east coast for support. His fundraising goal is $7,500 that will cover the Virginia-Hawai'i-American Samoa-PNG roundtrip airfare, lodging, food and touring expenses. Donations that exceed the goal will be used for needed basketball equipment and supplies for ASBA, said Faumuina-Eze.

"I'd like to create more opportunities for female and male basketball players in American Samoa by opening up a pipeline to colleges and universities along the eastern seaboard," he told tautalatala.com. "I look forward to helping the ASBA. Thank you for your time and consideration for this opportunity. Any donation, no matter how small, is greatly appreciated. Every little bit counts. This journey wouldn't be possible without your support. Fa'afetai tele lava mo le avanoa.”

To support Coach Uchenna and Team Amerika Samoa in the XV Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea, follow the link: http://www.gofundme.com/dreamPNG2015.

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