By RENALDO DORSETT
THE Bahamas Basketball Federation’s ‘Summer of Thunder’ is just over three weeks in and local teams have already achieved unprecedented success, with three wins in the summer-long series against top tier NCAA Division I teams.
Teams from the Bahamas have won three games in the series thus far, coming from the pair of teams that appeared in the New Providence Basketball Association finals.
The Commonwealth Bank Giants won their second game of the series last week with a 77-74 win over Bradley University.
Gamaliel Rose finished with a side high double double – 19 points and 12 rebounds. Michael Bain scored 13, Eugene Bain added 16 points and 12 boards and Jeremy Hutchinson just missed a third double-double for the Giants with 12 points and nine rebounds.
The Giants took the lead for good (63-62) with 5:56 remaining on a Michael Bain basket that started an 8-0 run.
Bradley did not close closer than the final margin the rest of the way as the Giants held on by scoring their final eight points at the free throw line.
On opening weekend, the Giants stunned the Manhattan University Jaspers 88-82.
The victory came after Manhattan College opened their three-game series with a 116-72 rout over the PJ Stingers and after the Jaspers clobbered the New Providence All-Stars 103-56.
Eugene Bain pumped in a game high 24 points, while sharp shooter Ricardo Pierre connected on 13 points in the fourth quarter, finishing with 20.
Rose had 17, including 10 in the third, and Jermaine Storr made his presence felt with 12.
Commonwealth Bank trailed 50-36 at the half but they turned things around in the second half, going on a 22-8 rampage in the third for a 58-58 tie.
The fourth quarter was the difference with the Giants using a 29-24 spurt to take the win.
Mike Alvarado scored 17 to pace the Jaspers, Rhamel Brown had 11 points and Emmy Andijar chipped in with 10.
The Giants also lost by just seven points to ACC powerhouse, the Maryland Terrapins.
In the other win for Bahamian teams, The Mailboat Cybots topped Hampton University, 85-79, led by another double double from Bain who finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Brian Bain chipped in with 16 points, while Ernest Saunders added 13 points and eight steals.
Du’vaughn Maxwell led Hampton with a game high 27 points and 11 rebounds and Deron Powers added 15 points.
With the success of the previous five years of the event, BBF executives plan to expand in the near future.
‘Summer of Thunder’ director Sean Bastian said the BBF will look to extend its North American reach into Canadian universities.
“We sat down with the Canadian Basketball Federation and we did a presentation about Bahamas basketball and how they can come and be a part of the ‘Summer of Thunder’ and that was very successful. Hopefully we will have a team from Canada come here in December. We need to continue to send information there so that they can work the logistics with cost and travel, but a lot of them have been corresponding saying they are considering it within their university budgets,” he said.
Many Bahamians were expecting to see one of our own suit up when Shaquille Cleare and the Maryland Terrapins took to the court. However, Cleare was sidelined for the duration of the Terrapins stay with a hamstring injury.
With the possible addition of Canadian teams, it presents more opportunities for Bahamian based players abroad to participate in the exhibition series.
Bastian also looks to expand the hosting duties within the Bahamas.
“I see it as a goal of mine where we can target Florida schools to jump on the fast ferry, travel to Bimini, play in their gym and you have various hotels that are in walking distance. You can’t ask for anything better than that. Hopefully we can communicate with various stakeholders there about hosting a tournament there and I think the proximity from bikini to the Florida area will factor economically and be in those teams budgets for these NCAA Div I, II and III teams,” he said. “It is a series that really benefits all, especially our local teams as it gives them an opportunity to showcase their skills against high-powered teams. It also gives our men an opportunity to be recruited by these Division I programmes.”
In order to keep teams engaged in the series and continue the tradition, Bastian said the Bahamas must continue to field quality teams on the court.
The complete list of participating teams in this year’s series includes Maryland, Manhattan, Auburn, Hampton, South Carolina State, Bradley, Southern Mississippi, Kent State and Wisconsin Green Bay.
Local teams in the series will include the MailBoat Cybots, the Commonwealth Bank Giants, the Real Deal Shockers, the Bahamas All-Stars, the New Providence All-Stars, the PJ’s Stingers, the Street Legends All-Stars, the Grand Bahama All-Stars and Mickey’s All-Stars team from Grand Bahama.
In a single year, the number of games has increased from 29 to 42.