By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
AFTER dropping a disappointing loss to Antigua, the Bahamas men’s national team got a wake up call and the reality set in as they starred their destiny against Cuba at the Caribbean Basketball Championships over the weekend in Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
Now they are on their way to the CentroBasket in Mexico from August 1-7 and assistant coach Mario Bowleg said the Bahamas Basketball Federation will have to look at some adjustment for the team when they go to another training camp in Houston, Texas from July 23-30.
“It was a pretty good tournament. We had our adversities from we left the Bahamas,” said Bowleg, who doubles as the federation’s first vice president. “Our bags were left and we didn’t get them until late the next day. When we got there, there was not sufficient rooms booked for us.
“But I told the guys that based on my experience in the past, whenever we are faced with adversities, our teams are normally successful. But I believe the biggest adversity came in our second game against Antigua. I think that woke us up and made us realise that we were not there for teams to walk all over us.”
The Bahamas, coached by Colorado State head coach Larry Eustachy, won their opener 84-53 over St Vincent & the Grenadines before losing 90-68 to Antigua. The Bahamas then bounced back to stun Cuba 77-71 to wrap up the top spot at 2-1 in Group A. In the semifinal, the Bahamas knocked off the host British Virgin Islands 84-65.
That set up a rematch in the final against Cuba where the Bahamas pulled off a 75-64 decision to clinch the title and the top spot in the CentroBasket.
*“After day one, we watched every team play and we didn’t feel as though there was any team tat could compete with us, but we felt that the US Virgin Islands and Cuba were the only ones to give us a push,” Bowleg said. “Against Antigua, everybody went into the game thinking that we could beat them just like we like we beat St. Vincent.
“Antigua just shot the hell of the ball. We caught them when they were in a zone and there was nothing we could do about it.”
Bowleg, however, noted that after having a meeting after the loss, the team realized that they had to beat Cuba by at least 23 points in order to advance, so they knew they couldn’t lose again.
Surprisingly, St. Vincent nipped Antigua 93-92 and that gave the Bahamas some breathing room as they prepared for their match-up against Cuba. The rest, as they say, was history as the Bahamas regained its composure and took its frustration out on Cuba.
At the end of the tournament,no All-Tournament or most valuable player were selected. But the Bahamas had plyers listed in all of the individual categories.
Offensively, Magnum Rolle emerged as the second best rebounder with an average of 7.0 per game. Rolle joined Marvin Gray as the scoring leader, both with 69 points for an average of 13.8. Gray was the best passer with an average of 4.6 with a total of 23. Bennet Davis was the ninth best free thrower shooter with 16 for a 3.2 average. Alonzo Hinds made the most three-pointers with a total of 10 for the fifth best average of 2.0.
Defensively, Kadeem Coleby had the most blocks on the team with six for a 1.2 average and Gray was third on the steals’ list with 14 for a 2.8 average.
While Bowleg came home with Coleby, Mitch Johnson, Scott Farrington and Eugene Bain, all of the other players returned to the United States as they take a break before the second training camp gets underway in Houston on July 23 in preparation for the for the CentroBasket in Mexico.
“We may not have all of the players because some of them have some other obligations,” Bowleg said. “We have lost (Lynden) LJ Rose, who got injured in the first game. Bennet Davis have some objections as does Dwight Coleby. So we will have to make some adjustments.
“We are hoping that Dwight can get the time off from his school and we have some other players like Keno Burrows and Mychal Thompson Jr and Buddy Hield and Kenton Smith, who are still in the pipeline and should be available to us. So we have to look at improving on our turnovers, our conditioning and out shooting from the outside, that would improve us making us forward.”
Fatigue played a key role in their turnovers, but Bowleg said if they can get the players in better condition coming into the training camp on July 23, when they get into Mexico on July 30, they should be in contention to qualify for the Tournament of Americas next year, which is the step away from qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games.
The women’s national team, coached by Yolett McPhee-McCuin, will open their segment of the CBC Tournament today at 4:15 pm against the Virgin Islands.