The Bahamas set to play Venezuela
Game to be played on Thursday at Kendal Isaacs Gym
Win or lose, Bahamas Basketball is about to enter a new stratosphere as the nation prepares for its highest level of competition in history.
The country is just one round from advancement to the 2023 FIBA (International Basketball Federation) Basketball World Cup – which is on par with the level of basketball at the Olympics.
With that mind, the squad is engaging in high energy practice and training sessions at Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium in preparation for the beginning of the second round of competition of the 2023 FIBA Americas World Cup Qualifiers. The Bahamas has a pair of pivotal games in the coming days – this Thursday against Venezuela at Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium, and next Monday against Argentina at the Polideportivo Islas Malvinas in Mar del Plata, Argentina.
The game this Thursday is set for 8 p.m. Doors open at 5 p.m. The game against Argentina will get underway at 9:40 p.m.
One of the country’s most high-profile players, Chavano ‘Buddy’ Hield of the Indiana Pacers in the National Basketball Association (NBA), said he is excited to play for Team Bahamas and is looking forward to this window of the qualifiers.
“We just want to thank all the sponsors for coming on board and assisting us and we’re appealing to the Bahamian people to come out and show us some support,” said Hield. “I’m very excited to be here to play and we’re ready to go. We would have liked to come out with a victory in the last game, but we accomplished the goal of getting to the next round and we’re happy with that. We’re coming out here on Thursday to give it our best effort and try to get this win. Your support goes a long way in helping us to do that so please come out and show us that same love and support that you showed us in the last game.”
The Bahamas fell to the Dominican Republic (DR), 88-80, at Baha Mar Convention Center in Nassau in its last game of the first round of qualifiers. Be that as it may, the team had already qualified for the second round. Hield led Team Bahamas with a game-high 29 points against the DR.
Mychel Thompson, son of Bahamian basketball legend Mychal ‘Sweet Bells’ Thompson said he considers himself a Bahamian and it’s a joy to play for The Bahamas.
“I’m real happy to be here. Every time I put on this jersey, it means a lot to me, particularly since my dad never got to do it,” he said. “I’m very proud to be a Bahamian. It means so much to me. We appreciate the love and support so much, especially in that last game at Baha Mar. You guys kept us in the game even when we weren’t playing at our best. Hopefully, we could get that same support in this window. It means a lot to us and we’ll go out there represent you guys well.”
Two of the three Bahamian NBA players – Hield and Kai Jones of the Charlotte Hornets – will be available for this upcoming window of the qualifiers. The Phoenix Suns’ DeAndre Ayton is not available, and no reason was given.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Mario Bowleg said he supports the stance of the federation of moving forward with the players who are available to play.
“I haven’t reached out to him. I don’t believe you should have to make an appeal for anyone to represent their country. That’s just my view on that,” said the minister.
Team Bahamas Head Coach Chris DeMarco – an assistant with the NBA’s Golden State Warriors – said he is looking forward to this window of qualifiers.
“I was real excited – from the first practice with these guys. They bring high energy to the gym and they are all enthusiastic about playing for this team,” said DeMarco . “These guys sacrifice a lot to come here and play for their home country and they really need the support of the Bahamian people. We’re real excited for these next few games and we’re going to go out there and give it the best shot that we can.”
Minister Bowleg is also appealing to the public for support of the team.
“Congratulations to the team for reaching this level. It is our hope that you will continue to improve and continue to represent the country well. We anticipate some great performances and we look forward to the team putting its best foot forward to get us to the next level. Bahamians, and fans of basketball, please come out and support this team,” he said.
Coming on board as the title sponsor in this window of competition to the tune of $15,000 is the Island Cares Foundation.
Senior Marketing Manager at Island Luck Kenny Mackey said their main focus is to support initiatives and agendas such as the mission of the senior men’s national basketball team.
“We never hesitated to support this team – our team. This is a world-class sporting event and we hope that this contribution will go a long way in defraying the cost of playing in this event. Venezuela, watch out! You’re in our way and we’re coming to play. We’d like to take this time to wish good luck to the federation and to the men’s national team,” he said.
Additionally, Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) President Romell ‘Fish’ Knowles vowed that his organization will double the level of sponsorship of the title sponsor. Originally, the BOC came on board as a silver sponsor for this window.
“We appear to be at the point now where The Bahamas has a legitimate opportunity to qualify for the Olympics in a team sport and we celebrate that,” said Knowles. “The pressure on team sports here in the country is phenomenal, despite our small size. Sports is big business, and we are expected to win. The Bahamas Basketball Federation should be commended for its hard work in reaching so far, but the goal is to go further. We’re looking forward to continued success.”
Other sponsors of the team are the National Sports Authority (NSA), Breezes Resort and Spa, Baha Mar, Cable Bahamas, Aquapure, Thompson Trading, Sun Oil Ltd. and Bamboo Shack.
In its community outreach gesture, the BBF, in turn, is sponsoring the Urban Renewal Band to the tune of $2,000.
As for this window of qualifiers for Team Bahamas, a victory or two would go a long way in helping The Bahamas qualify for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup. There are six games in the second and final round of qualifiers and The Bahamas needs to win at least two of the six to have an opportunity to qualify. Ideally, they need to win as much as possible as they are tied for fifth in the six-team group with a 2-4 win/loss record. There are two groups of six teams remaining in the qualifying process, and the second and final round of qualifiers will conclude in February 2023. The process will determine the seven teams that will participate at the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup, as the top three teams in each group and the best fourth-place team will qualify. The 2023 FIBA World Cup is set for August 25 to September 10, 2023 in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia.
In this final round of qualifiers, The Bahamas will play Venezuela, Argentina and Panama twice – in home and away series. This is the first time in history The Bahamas has reached the second round of qualifiers for the FIBA World Cup. The official roster for the two games in this window was set to be released after a workout session last night. The list of names was unavailable up to press time.
For the game against Venezuela this Thursday, ticket prices are $40 each for general admission and $80 for the VIP section. Courtside tickets will be sold for $150 each. Tickets are available online at the website https://bbfbasketball.com/ or orders can be made by placing a call to the telephone number (242) 814-4170.