JaBA gives up chase of Pacers' Hibbert
Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
Ajani Williams, president of the Jamaica Basketball Association (JaBA), said his organisation has given up its chase of Indiana Pacers centre Roy Hibbert for this year's Federation of International Basketball Associations (FIBA) World Championships.
The Americas qualifiers will be held in Caracas, Venezuela, from August 30 to September 11.
"Roy Hibbert will not be playing for Team Jamaica," said Williams. "He personally texted me and said that he thought we had a great team and we had a good shot, but he would not be available for the championships.
"This means that we have now suspended our efforts in going after him," Williams said.
The 7ft 2in, 278-pound Hibbert will represent Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals in the NBA play-offs against the Miami Heat, which is set to begin today. He has emerged as one of the top centres in the National Basketball Association over the past three seasons.
Hibbert last represented Jamaica in the Centro Basketball Tournament in the Dominican Republic in 2010.
He has averaged 11 points and eight rebounds per game during the regular season and 14 points and nine rebounds in the current play-offs.
The JaBA boss added that Hibbert's unavailability is a major blow for the national team, but remains optimistic that Jamaica will qualify for the next championships.
"I think with Roy Hibbert you are almost guaranteed getting to the World Championships next year," Williams said.
"He is big man and he played good defence for the Pacers against Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks) and so there is no question that he adds value," Williams said.
"However, can we replace his value? I honestly believe that we can, maybe with not only one player, but with two players," he reasoned.
Continuing, Williams said: "We need at least one more NBA player and so we are going after André Drummond of Detroit Pistons and Ryan Hollins of Los Angeles Clippers.
"Ryan is a very experienced player and our coach, Sam Vincent, coached him when he was playing for the Charlotte Bobcats in the NBA and so Sam is very high on him," Williams stated.
He noted that JaBA will also be holding talks with Ben Gordon of the Bobcats and Tony Douglas from Sacramento Kings.
The Jamaicans are set to face the likes of Spain, Argentina and Brazil in the FIBA World Championships in this year's qualifiers.