Mon | Dec 4, 2023

Nine nights of great basketball set for the Arena

Published:Friday | January 6, 2023 | 1:24 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
Wayne Dawkins, CEO of Phase 1 Academy
Wayne Dawkins, CEO of Phase 1 Academy
Jamaica Basketball Association President Paulton Gordon
Jamaica Basketball Association President Paulton Gordon

Basketball fans are in for a treat. The second staging of the E1 Caribbean Pro Basketball League will start tomorrow inside the National Arena, once again pairing top local exponents with professionals from overseas. Though the tournament is in its infancy, Jamaica Basketball Association president Paulton Gordon reckons the E1 league is raising eyebrows and grabbing attention.

“It will be pretty much a month of basketball. There’ll be 24 professionals coming from overseas and we have identified the top local players who are available to us now. Again, they’ll be grouped into four clusters, four groups of players. So, we expect nine nights of great activity over the period January 7 to 29,” Gordon said.

The event is a product of the development partnership between the local association and the Canada-based Phase 1 Basketball Academy. At the end of the first staging last August, Wayne Dawkins, CEO of Phase 1, remarked in a STAR Sports report that “this was meant to be a concept where we can show local and foreign investors and sponsors the potential of professional basketball here”.

According to Gordon, there are signs of interest.

“There are some investors who are looking at it to say, ‘okay, this is another opportunity for us to invest in an emerging pro league.’ “

He believes it is a great opportunity for players.

“We piloted that in the summer,” he reflected, “and realised that it works. There are some semi-pros and pros who were looking for jobs elsewhere, and they saw this as another pathway to expose their talent. They came to Jamaica. Some of them are now in Mexico. A couple of them are in Europe, based on that display.”

Continuing, he said, “So, the more we create these opportunities, the more other pro leagues will look at Jamaica and say, we can tap into talent in this development pro league. We don’t expect to match the established pro leagues, but it’s a platform created for our local players and some budding overseas players.”

Associated with this initiative is a men’s development league. That league will be held at the GC Foster College for Physical Education and Sport, Gordon said.

“The players who are not at the level yet, who are aspiring to move on, they’ll be scouted and looked at in active competition for a couple of days,” he added.

There will also be action for female players.

“There’s a women’s showcase during the month as well, the top ladies, a couple coming from overseas,” Gordon revealed.