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Team brings together the next basketball greats of Hawaii


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    HONOLULU (KITV) — High school basketball is already being played or there is a plan in place in every state other then Hawaii. The decision by both public and private schools on Oahu to cancel the season also trickled down to the middle school level. A pivotal time in a young player’s career hoping to open doors for their future. Sons of Hawai’i has stepped up to not only fill the void, but help the athletes thrive.

Instead of waiting for opportunity to come knocking, a group of 8th graders and one 7th grader from many different middle schools decided to kick down the door.

“Something big for not only ourselves but future generations,” JJ Mandaquit said, an Iolani School 8th grader.

“People might think we play with coconuts down here, no shoes or nothing but we want to show them where we come from,” Kamehameha Schools 7th grader Kaina Watson said.

They are the first team ever from Hawai’i invited to play in the elite Nike West Coast Circuit.

“With Basketball being shut down in so many different states because of COVID a lot of east coast teams jumped in on the west coast circuit so this is pretty much made up of the top teams across the country,” Head Coach Jason Mandaquit said.

Mandaquit was a key piece on Hilo High School’s 2000 state champion team. Every week flying in from Hilo to be the head coach of not only a talented but also like minded group of players that he assembled.

“We made it clear if you wanted to be apart of it that this is business trip. We are going out there with a purpose to prove that we can not only hang with these teams but beat them,” Coach Mandaquit said.

In it together as the Sons of Hawai’i and that name might sound familiar, in honor of an Hawaiian Music hall of famer.

“Blessed to have that name given to use by Auntie Myrna Kamae, the wife of late great Eddie Kamae and she was really excited that we were going to represent Hawai’i and who we are and where we come from,” Team Manager & parent Kihei Nahale’a said.

The logo created by famed Hilo Design Kuhao Zane of Sig Zane design, the artist behind the Oregon Ducks Ohana football uniform. While the coaches created a teaching opportunity.

“Had the kids do a workshop of understanding who they are and where they come from,” Nahalea said.

“Keep our families with us when we go the mainland,” Watson said.

They got creative in their preparation.

“Had to use outdoor parks so Kapaolono Park kind of became our home court. Get together in garages and go over videos and do the best we could to get everyone on the same page,” Coach Mandaquit said.

In an early January trip to Arizona, their first together, Sons of Hawai’i not only caught eyes with their uniforms but their performance.

“They definitely looked down upon us but we gained their respect during the first tournament,” JJ Mandaquit said.

“Proved to the rest of the country that we can play and belong playing on that circuit. I think we did that the first one and looking forward to the next session to continue to progress and continue to make a name for ourselves,” Coach Mandaquit said.

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