Chavano ‘Buddy’ Hield scored a game-high 24 points on National Pride Day in The Bahamas to propel the senior men’s national team to a convincing win on the road, booking their spot in the second round of the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) Americas World Cup Qualifiers, with a 97-80 victory over the US Virgin Islands (USVI) on Friday.
Hield led a balanced scoring attack for The Bahamas. Five other Bahamians scored in double digits in an away match-up at the UVI (University of the Virgin Islands) Sports and Fitness Center in St. Thomas, USVI.
Also scoring in double figures were Kentwan Smith (17 points), Franco Miller Jr. (16 points), Mychel Thompson (13 points), Radshad Davis (12 points) and Travis Munnings (10 points). The 97 points were the most ever scored by The Bahamas in a world cup qualifying game.
The Bahamas joins Canada and the Dominican Republic (DR) as the three teams from Group C to advance to the second round. Canada leads the group with a perfect 5-0 win/loss record while the DR sits in second with a 3-2 record. The Bahamas is in third with a 2-3 record. The USVI holds the fourth and final spot in Group C action with a winless 0-5 record and did not advance to the next round.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Mario Bowleg congratulated the team for moving one step closer to qualifying for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
“I watched the game with great pride and extend congratulations to the senior men’s national team, which was led by NBA (National Basketball Association) player Chavano ‘Buddy’ Hield, Mychel Thompson and Franco Miller,” said Bowleg in a press release.
He encouraged Bahamians to come out and support the team in their game against the DR tonight.
“On this day of national pride, I ask every Bahamian to join me in celebrating tonight’s (Friday) feat. This critical win gives Team Bahamas momentum heading into Monday night’s (tonight) 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,” Bowleg said.
It was clear that The Bahamas was on a mission against USVI to clinch that spot in the second round as they played with much pace early and had a strong defensive presence throughout. The Bahamas had 14 steals in total with Hield owning five of those steals. The Bahamas had just nine turnovers compared to their counterparts who had a whopping 20 turnovers. The Bahamas scored a jaw-dropping 26 points from those USVI turnovers compared to USVI scoring just three points from The Bahamas’ turnovers.
In the fastbreak points category, The Bahamas had 18 points in the open court compared to USVI’s 13 points. As a team, The Bahamas made 16 three-point shots out of 40 attempts from deep, shooting 40 percent from distance. Hield was responsible for five of those made shots from deep and Thompson made three shots from deep.
The team showed chemistry as they had 33 made shots on 20 assists.
Thompson scored nine of his 13 points in the opening period for The Bahamas. The home team managed to keep the score close early in the game as it was tied at 24 after the first quarter.
After the coaching staff gave the team their feedback at the end of the first quarter, the Bahamian players responded positively as they began to pull away from the home team. Davis gave The Bahamas the lead with 9:28 left in the second quarter and they never looked back.
In the second quarter, Florida Gulf Coast University guard Miller came to life. Miller scored some key buckets and played some stifling defense in that quarter to lead all scorers with 12 points at the half. Miller hit a shot from deep on a pass from Munnings with three minutes left in the first half to give The Bahamas its first double-digit lead, 44-34.
At the end of the first half, The Bahamas led 52-39 and was in control of the game after a 28-15 second quarter advantage.
In the third quarter, The Bahamas built its largest lead of the game, 23 points, leading 75-52 with 3:33 remaining. They got to that margin on an alley-oop layup to Davis from Miller. The Bahamas led 77-62 at the end of the third quarter.
Hield had 16 points at the end of the third quarter. For good measure, he scored eight more points before making his final exit with 56 seconds left in regulation. He made two shots from beyond the arc and made two free throws in the final quarter.
Walter Hodge led the USVI with 18 points.
The Bahamas’ team is back home, preparing to face the DR at the Baha Mar Convention Center tonight. That game gets underway at 7 p.m. The DR is coming off a 95-75 loss to Canada on Friday.