By RENALDO DORSETT
WITH the stage set for the 2014 Battle 4 Atlantis, this year’s event will include eight of the top NCAA men’s basketball programmes and for the first time Bahamian players on the floor which should lead to one of the most successful editions to date.
George Markantonis, Atlantis’ president and managing director, recently went on record to say that resort officials anticipate a 2014 Thanksgiving sell-out.
“Our ticket sales for all the games are ahead of pace from last year by about 15 per cent. I didn’t think that was possible, but they are,” he said, “I think it’s going to be another excellent Thanksgiving in November. The final is already completely sold out and we’re going to run the same sold out occupancy as we did last year.”
The eight-team field will feature the North Carolina Tar Heels, Georgetown Hoyas, UCLA Bruins, Florida Gators, Wisconsin Badgers, Oklahoma Sooners, UAB Blazers and Butler Bulldogs.
The tournament tips off on Wednesday (November 26) when the Tar Heels will face the Bulldogs at 12pm.
The second game of the tournament should be of particular note to the Bahamian public as it will feature a matchup of Bahamian players competing for their respective universities in the B4A for the first time.
Buddy Hield and the Oklahoma Sooners will face Wannah Bail and the UCLA Bruins at 2pm.
For the Sooners, Hield is headed into his junior season as the team’s leading scorer and first round NBA draft prospect.
Hield finished the regular season ranked No.9 in the Big 12 in scoring at 16.8 points per game, second in steals at 1.5 per game, third in three-point field goals made at 2.8 per game and fourth in three-point percentage.
Wannah Bail enters his sophomore season with the UCLA Bruins after a lengthy recruiting process which took him all the way to the Canary Islands for a season.
The winner of the Sooners-Bruins matchup would go on to face the winner of game one.
The other half of the bracket will feature a pair of 2013 Final Four teams in Florida and Wisconsin. The Badgers and Blazers will meet the Hoyas in the opening round 7pm November 26, while the Gators and Hoyas are slated to meet at 9:30pm.
The championship is November 28 at the 3,900-seat Imperial Arena, a ballroom converted to a basketball venue. The event will be televised live on ESPN and AXS TV.
ESPN2 will air game’s one and two while ESPN will air the semi-finals, third place and championship games.
With the ESPN, ”The Worldwide Leader in Sports,” now onboard, Markantonis said the result can only mean higher viewer numbers which will hopefully translate into a further increase in business for Atlantis and The Bahamas for the future.
“We knew we had a good idea from the start and we were always optimistic about its success, but Battle 4 Atlantis, in just four short years, has truly exceeded our expectations and we are happy to note that it just keeps getting better,” he said.