Thu | Sep 21, 2017

U-16s in Carib tourney

Published:Thursday | June 30, 2016 | 6:00 AMLivingston Scott

For the first time in 18 years, a Jamaica youth basketball team will compete in a regional-international tournament when the national under-16 team leaves the island today for Georgetown, Guyana, to participate in the Caribbean Under-16 Basketball Championships from July 2-9.

Jamaica Basketball Association (JaBA) president Mark Broomfield told the youngsters that they have a great responsibility for the resurgence and revitalisation of basketball locally.

"We are glad to be back since 1998 as we have not been to any youth tournament since then, and we are glad we could put together a team that includes players from Canada and, hopefully, as we continue to grow, we will invite other players from the diaspora and the United States to come and be a part of basketball from the youth stage.

"We are going back to the days when we were dominant in basketball, and we are not going to leave there (Guyana) without the one thing we are going there for, and that's the trophy," Broomfield told the gathering.

Minister of Sports Olivia 'Babsy' Grange pledged continued support to one of her "favourite sports".

The team needed $3.5 million to make the trip but had to do it with little over $2 million.

"The allocation I know is not adequate, but I will make a commitment that I will speak to the Sports Development Foundation for additional money for the team. I am fully behind my team, I'm fully behind JABA, and I will be supporting the sport as a member of parliament and I encourage other MPs to do the same because basketball has a lot of potential for young people," she said.

Teams will be placed in two groups. Jamaica will play in Group B with hosts Guyana, Aruba, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. Group A comprises Antigua and Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, The Bahamas, Barbados, and Dominica. The top two teams in each group will contest the semi-final, with the winners moving on to the final.

The team was in a training camp for two months, and coach Tarry Upshaw believes that they are in good condition to challenge for top honours.