By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
MARIO Bowleg, first vice president of the Bahamas Basketball Federation, has now assumed the head coaching job for the men’s national basketball team.
Bowleg, who has coached numerous teams from high school to night league, will replace Colorado State’s head coach Larry Eustachy, whom he worked with as an assistant when the men’s team competed at both the Caribbean Basketball Confederation (CBC) in July in Tortola, British Virgin Islands and the Centro Basketball in Mexico in August.
His first official duty in his new role will come when the men’s national team travel to the Central American and Caribbean Games in Veracruz, Mexico, November 14-30.
Basketball will be joining the men’s volleyball team, the first team sport to qualify for the four-yearly games.
“I was there as the first assistant for this reason, so that I can take over at a certain time,” said Bowleg, who will be assisted by Darrel Sears from Grand Bahama and Wayde Watson. “The executives of the federation feel it is time for a Bahamian such as myself to take over as we move towards playing in CBC next year.”
On his appointment, Bowleg said it wasn’t any surprise.
“It’s something that I was always prepared and willing to do,” he said. “It’s just a matter of putting myself aside so that the decision would be the best at that time, in terms of the relationship of the better players in the country, knowing who they would want to play for.
“And at this time, the executives strongly believe that the players themselves are more willing to play for me or wanting me to be the head coach at this time. So for that reason, the decision was made to make me the head coach.”
While a meeting was held with the players at the DW Davis Gym last night, Bowleg said the first official practice is set for 7:30pm Tuesday.
Having the men’s team qualified shows the growth and developement of the federation’s programme over the last few years, Bowleg said.
“We just have to try now to ensure that we get our better players to come out so that we can continue to climb the ladder so that we can be in a better position to gain entry into the bigger tournaments so we can get to the tournaments like the World Games and the Olympics,” Bowleg said.
“Although the majority of our better players are either in college or playing professionally, who may not be available for us when we travel in November, the federation is still confident that with the level of players that we have at home and those who have not secured professional contracts as yet and are available, we should still field a very good team.”
Players such as Marvin Gray, CJ Hinds, Mitch Johnson, Kedeem Coleby, Eugene Bain, Keno Burrows and Rony Cadet are some of the names that Bowleg hopes to have on his roster.
“We feel we will have a very competitive team,” Bowleg said. “So we should be able to field a team of players that have the exposure of playing at this level before to allow us to be successful.”
Bowleg said that while the federation has received an official invitation from FIBA for the men’s team, they are looking at the possibility of the women’s team going as well.
“The BOA is working with the LOC in Mexico to confirm whether or not both teams will be going,” Bowleg said. “We have not gotten anything in writing from the BOA for the ladies and, as you know, the BOA is responsible for all expenses for the CAC Games. So we have to wait for their final approval.”