World Cup qualifiers continue tonight
The Bahamas set to play the USVI; game against the DR to be held Monday
The Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF) has ratified a 14-member team to play against the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) and the Dominican Republic (DR) in the third window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup Americas Qualifiers, today and Monday. The announcement came at a press conference held at the Baha Mar Convention Center yesterday.
Team Bahamas is currently in St. Thomas, USVI, for a matchup at the UVI (University of the Virgin Islands) Sports and Fitness Center at 7 p.m. tonight. The game against the Dominican Republic will be played at the Baha Mar Convention Center on Monday at 7 p.m.
The team is headlined by Indiana Pacers’ shooting guard Chavano ‘Buddy’ Hield and it also includes Deyton Albury, Jaron Cornish, Joshua Dames, Radshad Davis, Shaquillo Fritz, Franco Miller, Travis Munnings, David Nesbitt, Kentwan Smith, Mychel Thompson, Danrad Knowles, Zane Knowles and Dominic Bridgewater.
Knowles, Thompson, Munnings and Davis are the only players on the team who played in the last window.
The Head Coach of the team is Golden State Warriors’ Assistant Coach Chris Demarco. He will be assisted by University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) Women’s Basketball Head Coach Yolett ‘Coach Yo’ McPhee-McCuin, Mikhail McLean and Steve Barnes. The director of basketball operations for the team is Lynden ‘LJ’ Rose Jr. The head of delegation is Rodney Wilson. Eugena Patton and Alicia Greene are the athletic trainers. John Marc-Nutt is the public relations officer.
The Bahamas is currently sitting in third place in Group C of this round of the qualifiers. Leading the group is Canada with a perfect 4-0 win/loss record. The Dominican Republic is second with a 3-1 record. The Bahamas has a 1-3 record for third and the USVI has a winless 0-4 record for fourth. Just the top three teams will advance to the next round of qualifiers.
McPhee-McCuin, the first female to sit on the senior men’s coaching staff, was with the team during their training camp in Miami, Florida. She said she is happy with the work that the players and staff have done to ensure the team is ready to play.
“A lot of sacrifices have been made by these young men, coaches and support staff. We are appreciative for everybody who contributed,” she said. “This is a pivotal moment for Bahamas basketball as we move forward. Track and field is our national flag bearer but there are enough talented players in the men’s program who could propel the sport. Although we do not have all of our pro players, we have a very good group of guys who have been working hard and giving everything that they have for The Bahamas. I am grateful to be a part of it.”
Hield said he is happy for the opportunity to play at home as it is not something he and his teammates get to do often.
“Playing at home is a great opportunity not just for the BBF but for the guys who are not able to play in front of the Bahamian crowd because we play in the United States of America and overseas,” he said. “It is a great experience because as a kid you always want to give back to your country and playing in front of the fans is something that we all cherish. Hopefully, we could go out there and get a win.”
Moses Johnson usually assists Demarco in the summer months, but did not travel with the team this time. He is still intricately involved with the team.
“We have a diverse and a talented team which is interchangeable,” Johnson said. “In the halfcourt set, we are going to spread the offense. I think we are a great shooting team. Once we are able to knock down shots, we will be fine. In the halfcourt, we will spread them out and use advantages on key possessions. On the defensive end, there is a lot of continuity. I had a chance to see the guys practice and they look very well. They are well connected and are communicating. They are at a high level defensively.”
Johnson also spoke about the collegiate players on the team – Miller, Albury and Dames – and about them having an opportunity to be around experienced and high-level basketball minds.
“This is a great opportunity for them because they have been ecstatic from day one when they landed in training camp. They get to rub shoulders with Hield and the other pros, so it is a great experience for them. It enhances their learning curve, and it also gives them something to look up to. They can now forge relationships that they can use during their seasons and have guys they can call on for advice. It is good for them and for the program, as young people, to be able to contribute,” Johnson said.
The Bahamas will play this window without Phoenix Suns’ center DeAndre Ayton and the Charlotte Hornets’ Kai Jones – the other two Bahamian players in the National Basketball Association (NBA) along with Hield. Ayton is dealing with his contract, trying to get a max deal, and Jones has to report for the NBA Summer League for the Hornets. Johnson knows that having them would have been huge for the team, but they have to move forward with what they have, he said, adding that he is sure that they will have positive results.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Mario Bowleg, former senior men’s head coach and BBF President, is optimistic about the team’s chances of qualifying for the FIBA World Cup 2023.
“I am here to give my support to the BBF and its request for the senior men to represent the country in the world cup qualifiers. I am expecting them to do good. They have one win so far and need one more to cross the finish line for the first time in history of this country – qualify for the next round of the world cup qualifiers. It will be so timely as we are about to celebrate our 50th anniversary as an independent nation.”
Oaktree Medical Center and Baha Mar were on hand to speak about their partnership with the BBF. Senior Vice President at Baha Mar Robert ‘Sandy’ Sands said that sports tourism is vital to the hotel business and they will be ready to host the game on Monday.
“When the minister called less than 10 days ago to make this happen, we jumped through the proverbial hoops to make this event and venue available. I am happy to say that it will be in a world-class condition. Sports tourism is an integral part of the marketing affairs here at Baha Mar and will continue to propel The Bahamas as a leading sporting destination. We look forward to a very successful basketball game,” said Sands.
Oaktree is a major sponsor and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kristi Deveaux spoke about their commitment to sports.
“Being a former junior national team player, when the invitation was extended to Oaktree to sponsor and support the BBF, we said yes. We said that this is the fitting thing to do. We strongly support sports because we know first-hand the transformative power it has to change lives and build communities. We stand with the government of The Bahamas, NGOs and Corporate Bahamas to support men and women making a difference in our country,” said Deveaux.
Hield thanked the partnership of Baha Mar and Oaktree for being corporate partners with the BBF.
“It is big. Thanks to Baha Mar for hosting this event. We appreciate you and moving forward as things get better throughout The Bahamas, we can host events and come together as one and make The Bahamas a sports country,” Hield said.
BBF President Eugene Horton is delighted for the support they received for the games.
“We are grateful for the support from everyone for coming together for these games. Having McPhee-McCuin with us, one of the top Bahamian coaches in the U.S., speaks to the power of women in sports. We are also thankful to the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and also the Ministry of Tourism, Investments and Aviation for their support,” said Horton.
The BBF is looking forward to a full house on Monday. Tickets for the game are available for $30 each through the website www.bbfbasketball.com and at the door.