Rainbow Warriors basketball set to make long-awaited Big West debut against UC Riverside

Rainbow Warriors basketball set to make long-awaited Big West debut against UC Riverside

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Rainbow Warriors are wheels up — the ‘Bows basketball team left Daniel K. Inouye International Airport on Wednesday for California to face UC Riverside in their long awaited Big West Conference Opener.

It’s been nearly a month since the Warriors hit the floor, after their original Big West opener against Cal Poly was canceled after a positive COVID-19 test was found within the Mustangs’ program.

Despite the extended pause, head coach Eran Ganot is making sure his team keeps their focus on playing basketball — whenever they can.

“You know sometimes you have a bye week, but I’ve never seen breaks like this, we’ve never had this kind of break, we’re talking 20 days in between games after already having significant breaks due to cancellation.” Coach Ganot told reporters. “It’s the nature of the beast this year, it’s the reality of our situation and that’s the biggest thing, making sure our guys are locked in and continue to be prepared for whatever comes our way.”

Co-team captain Justin Webster echoes that sentiment, saying that his teammates have stuck together and practiced hard for a game they weren’t 100 percent sure would even happen.

“You know it definitely was a mental challenge for not only me, but all of us when our first couple of games were canceled, so we’ve just been on the court, we’ve been practicing and wondering if we’re going to play this upcoming week.” Webster said. “For the most part, for the last week our attitudes have been really good, we’ve strung together some good/great practices, so the energy level is going to be through the roof this week and I expect us to be high on all cylinders and I believe we’ll be ready to play this week.”

At times, it might be difficult to commit all of your energy into something that is uncertain, but the Texas native says that the ‘Bows need to stay on this path — even though the path is unclear.

“We’ve got to find something that keeps us motivated, you know we may not always understand why things are going on, but we can only control what we can control.” Webster said. “So that’s really what’s been my message to my teammates, just control what we can control and let’s just keep getting better everyday.”

UH athletics has kept unnecessary exposure to a minimum throughout the pandemic, a few months ago the UH football team was one of the only programs in the country to play all of their scheduled games and make a bowl appearance.

Learning from what was done with football, the basketball Warriors hope to mimic their success, but like anything during the pandemic, that can change in a split second.

“We continue to remind our guys about how important it is, you know we’ve done a great job so far, but there are no heat checks with COVID, i’ll continue to say that to the team as we continue to remind our team and we continue to provide perspective when we see other programs or other issues going down.” Coach Ganot said. “We relay that to our team because one issue could affect your entire program and it could affect other programs.”

The ‘Bows tip off with the Highlanders Friday at 2:00 p.m. Hawaii time, streaming on BigWest.TV — followed by game two of the series on Saturday at the same time.

Copyright 2021 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.