BUDDY BUCKETS: The Bahamas senior men’s national basketball team completed a sweep over the US Virgin Islands and advanced to the second round of FIBA World Cup 2023 Americas Qualifiers. Chavano “Buddy” Hield (7) led six Bahamian players in double figures en route to a dominant 97-80 win over the US Virgin Islands at the Sport and Fitness Center in St Thomas, Virgin Islands, on Friday, July 1.
#By RENALDO DORSETT
#Tribune Sports Reporter
#THE Bahamas senior men’s national basketball team completed a sweep over the US Virgin Islands and advanced to the second round of FIBA World Cup 2023 Americas Qualifiers.
#Chavano “Buddy” Hield led six Bahamian players in double figures en route to a dominant 97-80 win over the US Virgin Islands on July 1 at the Sport and Fitness Center in St Thomas, Virgin Islands.
#The Indiana Pacers guard finished with 24 points, five rebounds, five assists and shot 5-11 from three-point range.
#Kentwan Smith finished with 17 points off the bench, Franco Miller Jr had 16 points and five assists, Mychel Thompson had 13 points, Rashad Davis scored 12 and Travis Munnings finished with 10.
CHAVANO “Buddy” Hield led six Bahamian players in double figures en route to a dominant 97-80 win over the US Virgin Islands at the Sport and Fitness Center in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, on July 1.
#The 97 points scored by The Bahamas were their most ever in a World Cup qualifying game.
#Hot shooting from beyond the arc and a defensive effort that dominated the turnover battle was ultimately the deciding factor, despite the USVI advantage on the boards.
#Team Bahamas shot 16-40 from three-point range and had more makes than the USVI’s total number of attempts. Five players had multiple three-point makes, including Hield (5-11), Smith (3-6), Thompson (3-5), Munnings (2-5) and Davis (2-4).
#Bahamas also took advantage of 20 turnovers by the Virgin Islands and turned them into 26 points.
#Thompson got the team out to a fast start with nine points in the first quarter. Both teams were eventually tied at 24 at the end of the first period.
#Miller took control in the second quarter as the team surged ahead for good. His acrobatic save led to a Smith three and Miller made a three of his own to give the team its first double figure lead of the afternoon 44-34 at the 2:41 mark in the half.
#They went on to outscore USVI 28-15 in the period while Miller led all scorers at the half with 12 points.
#The Bahamas extended its lead to as much as 23 in the second half highlighted by a third quarter sequence where Smith and Davis combined for three consecutive three pointers on three straight possessions.
#The Virgin Islands were led by Walter Hodge with 18 points while Georgio Milligan posted a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
#Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Mario K. Bowleg, the immediate past president of the Bahamas Basketball Federation, expressed how the World Cup Americas Qualifiers takes The Bahamas to the world and provides talented athletes with exposure and a chance to get to the Olympics.
#“Basketball in The Bahamas has grown over the years and now we know what is needed in terms of coaching. That is why we are so grateful to have additional coaches to our team, including coach Yolett, Chris Demarco as head coach and coach Mikhail McLean. I fully support the work of the federation, its teams and coaches. One day, I will get to see our basketball team at the Olympics and have my dream come to pass.” he said. “On this day of National Pride, I ask every Bahamian to join me in celebrating tonight’s feat. This critical win gives Team Bahamas momentum heading into Monday night’s game, which will be played right here at home, against the Dominican Republic. I encourage all Bahamians to come out and cheer on our men’s national team.”
#The Bahamas closes out the current window with tonight’s matchup against the Dominican Republic, hosted at the Baha Mar resort at 7pm.
#Team Bahamas was drawn into Group C alongside Canada, The Dominican Republic, and The US Virgin Islands.
#Canada leads the group at 5-0, The Dominican Republic is 3-2, The Bahamas is 2-3 and the USVI are eliminated at 0-5.
#In November’s first window, The Bahamas suffered a 115-73 loss to Canada in the first game of a back-to-back in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
#Canada took a decisive 113-77 win in the second game.
#Team Bahamas split the pair of games in the second window in February. They won 86-76 over the US Virgin Islands and lost 90-65 to The Dominican Republic at the Palacio de los Deportes in the Dominican Republic.
#Sixteen teams are competing in the Americas region, vying for seven spots.
#The top three teams from each group will qualify for the second round of qualifiers.
#In the second round, the 12 teams that qualified will be divided into two groups of six.
#Subsequently, the three best teams from each group, and the fourth-placed team, will qualify for the World Cup.