Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
The Institute of Sports has teamed up with Virginia Dare Jamaica Limited through their sport drink brand Hi-Lyte to take basketball back into the communities. The Hi-Lyte INSPORTS Community Basketball League was launched on Tuesday at INSPORTS head office.
The competition will feature 29 teams from the Southern Basketball Confederation - up from 24 last year - playing on a weekly basis on their community courts.
The five new teams are Duhaney Park, Ebony Volcanoes, Hope Road All Stars, New Generation from Majesty Gardens, and Sky Legends.
Hi-Lyte's contribution, which exceeds a $1million in cash and kind, combined with INSPORTS input of $800,000, has allowed for the incorporation of the Western Basketball Confederation. The 12 teams from that union will compete in a separate competition, also organised by INSPORTS.
The competition, which was once called the Division One Competition, underwent a name change to coincide with INSPORTS mandate to develop sports at the grass root level. While the decision to move the hosting of games in the group stage from the National Stadium to the community courts was fuelled by a desire to attract more fans.
"The game will not grow at the stadium ... when we take the games to the community where they can see their players, we hope that within the first few weeks we will see better crowds at basketball games," Calvin Martin, president of the Southern Basketball Association, said.
"This is the first year that we are partnering with the Western Conference, because we intend that whatever we get we will share for both regions. They (Western Conference) have been struggling for years to run their competition," he added.
Competition in the Southern Conference will tip off on September 29, with New Generation facing Ebony Volcanoes at the Tivoli Gardens Court. Match time is set for 5 p.m., but will be proceeded by the opening ceremony at 4 p.m.
The Western Conference competition is slated to start a week after their southern counterparts.
The teams in the Southern Conference will be divided into three zones - two comprised of 10 teams and one of nine. The top five teams and the best sixth-place team will advance to the play-offs, which will be played on a knockout basis. All games from the play-off stage onwards will take place at the National Stadium Court. The eight winners will progress to the quarterfinals where they will engage in a best-of-three series until the winner is crowned.
First the first year the teams' will not have to bear the full brunt of the referee fees, but will only be required to pay half. At the play-off stage and beyond the sponsors will cover the full cost.
Eastern Piston defeated Swallow Field in last year's final; both teams have since graduated to the National Basketball League.
The eventual winner of this year's competition will pocket $100,000, with the second, third and fourth place teams receiving $70,000, $40,000 and $30,000, respectively.