Elated to see basketball return - Gordon
Basketball screeched to a halt in March 2020 when the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic led to a stringent lockdown. It’s no wonder the sport’s local community was elated when the Jamaica Basketball Association got the greenlight to return to the courts.
Even now, mention of that date, June 10, 2021, puts a smile on the face of association President Paulton Gordon. “I was elated that we were given, or granted permission to have some roll-out of basketball,” Gordon recalled last month. Local competition was still months away, but the sport rolled back on the sporting calendar with tryouts in July for the Centro Under-17 Championships and the KFC Star Search Camp in Montego Bay, August 9; Knox College, August 11-12; and in Kingston, August 13-14. The KFC Star Search Camp puts local high-school players on show for US college scouts.
The camp was fully subscribed, with 50 players at each location, and for technical coordinator Alf Remikie, the activity gave the sport a local energy surge. As he watched under-19, 17 and 15 boys and select girls in the under-15 age group participate in the series, Remikie commented: “All the kids are behind in their fitness due to the long layoff, but they want to play, and it’s a good thing for them to see that the sport is not dead.”
The appetite for basketball soared with notable international results. Jamaica reached the top eight at the AmeriCup 3x3 tournament in Miami in November and finished sixth at the Centro Under-17 event in Mexico in December. “I think it has also to do with our feature internationally, how we handled ourselves internationally over the past couple of months with our 3x3 competition. We were ousted by the United States and that’s a big deal,” Remikie underlined, “and then our under-17 went and did very well in the last Centro basketball.”
United States-based London Johnson, a 6 feet 4 inches point guard was the tournament’s leading scorer with an average of 36 points a game, and, according to Jamaica team coach Trevor Poyser, “he led the team in almost every statistical category”.
A mishmash of COVID-19 regulations made it difficult to put international teams together. With the AmeriCup contest close at hand, head coach Rick Turner explained: “There are just some details we need to have squared away as far as the COVID protocols go, visas and travel and what not.”
The ball finally bounced again in a local competition with the association’s 3x3 Development Series in December. “There is a little buzz around it, because at least the basketball community was able to see some action, some activity,” Gordon stated.
Conscious that many other sports remain in limbo, Gordon was grateful. “So we’re happy, we’re really happy that we had some level of basketball activity and I would daresay, as an association, I think we were able to do more than a lot of the other associations,” he noted.