JaBA shooting for NBA stars - Local body moving to strengthen team for FIBA World Champs
Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
In an effort to boost Jamaica's team for next year's FIBA World Championships, president of the Jamaica Basketball Association (JaBA), Ajani Williams, said his administration will be targeting a number of overseas-based stars to strengthen the national team.
Williams told The Gleaner in an interview that his association would be going after the likes of National Basketball Association (NBA) point guard Ben Gordon of Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers centre Roy Hibbert and André Drummond of Detroit Pistons.
"Our recruiting will begin in January. We will be going after the ninth pick (André Drummond) in this year's draft from Detroit Pistons," said Williams. "We are also even going to go after Ben Gordon because he did not play for England this year in the Olympics Games in London," he said.
Eligible to represent jamaica
Williams added that both Gordon's parents are Jamaican, which makes him eligible to represent this country.
"He wanted to play for Jamaica in 2006 and he didn't get to play for us, and so he went to London to play for England, but never actually played for them in an international tournament," he stated.
Commenting on Hibbert, who has represented Jamaica before, Williams said: "We will be going after Roy (Hibbert) because he didn't play for the US in the Olympics and I will find it very hard for Roy to tell me he can't play for us.
"There is no guarantee that Team USA will even look at him for the next Olympics Games in 2016," Williams said.
"We want him and we are at a high level now in basketball, and we have a creditable team with committed NBA players that he should be happy with. We also have a former NBA coach and I don't see any reason why he would not want to play for us," the JaBA boss reasoned.
Invited to four-team tournament
Williams also disclosed that the national team has been invited by the Canadian Basketball Association to take part in a four-team tournament next year.
He said the Jamaicans will play against Ukraine, Israel and Canada. He said the tournament will be played from August 9-12 and will be excellent preparations for the Jamaicans, who are set to compete in the FIBA Championships qualifiers two weeks later.
"They have reached out to us for this four-day tournament, with all expenses paid," Williams remarked.
"This will be excellent preparation for the team because you are talking about Canada and they are a top-notch squad that has been to the Olympic Games a couple of times," Williams said.