Tue | Apr 13, 2021

National basketballers back in action after four years

Published:Monday | April 5, 2021 | 12:09 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer -
GORDON
GORDON

Jamaica's senior men's basketball team will participate in the Central American and Caribbean pre-qualifiers for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup, in El Salvador from April 15 to 19. This is the first time the team will compete in four years....

Jamaica's senior men's basketball team will participate in the Central American and Caribbean pre-qualifiers for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup, in El Salvador from April 15 to 19. This is the first time the team will compete in four years.

Though coach Nick Turner says they go into the tournament as underdogs, he expects his team to rise to the occasion and advance to the next stage of the qualifiers.

Jamaica will be up against Costa Rica, Guyana, Nicaragua and hosts El Salvador. They play Costa Rica on the 15th, Guyana the 16th, and Nicaragua the 17th, they rest on the 18th and play the hosts in their final game on the 19th.

The top three teams from the tournament will advance to the second phase in July.

Turner says the team possesses the quality to advance to the next phase. However, he believes their opponents are far more experienced and have been more active over the last four years.

"When you take into consideration that we have not competed for so long, the fact that you are a late addition to the tournament, and the fact that we haven't had the opportunity to play. I would say we would have to be considered underdogs," he said.

"I don't want to down play our talent level or experience, but when you look at the four other teams, they have been playing and have had a national programme that has been strong for the last five years.

"So just showing up and rolling the balls out and winning is going to be a challenge but we are going to have to rise to that challenge.

"There is no doubt the teams are good, but we believe our talent is good enough to compete. But they will have come together as a team as that remains to be seen."

The Jamaicans are due to arrive in El Salvador on April 13, and with only three scheduled training sessions ahead of the first match, Turner anticipates they will have their work cut out for them.

"The tournament came out of nowhere for us, and the COVID situation really threw things around the world into disarray and we didn't have time to put a proper training camp together," Turner said.

Whether the team advances or not, Turner, who has been in charge of the programme for over a year, says it will be an important step for its ambitions.

Jamaica Basketball Association President Paulton Gordon says the association has already secured the finances required to undertake the tournament.

"We have covered most of our expenses," he said. "We have some overseas partners and the JOA (Jamaica Olympic Association) will assist us,"

The tournament came about on short notice because of a backlog of tournaments because of the COVID-19 pandemic and FIBA Americas' efforts to get them going.

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com