By RENALDO DORSETT
THE draw has been released and now the Bahamas’ junior national basketball team knows their path to a possible Centrobasket title.
The Centrobasket U17 Championship 2015 is scheduled for August 4-8 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and with the participation of national teams of Bahamas, Barbados, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Virgin Islands, Mexico, Dominican Republic and hosts Puerto Rico.
The draw was held for the Centrobasket under-17 for boys this weekend at the FIBA Americas headquarters in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The Bahamas has been placed in Group B alongside the US Virgin Islands, Barbados and the host country, Puerto Rico.
Group A will include the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico and Costa Rica.
Teams were divided into two groups that will play a round robin within the group. The top two teams from each group will qualify for the semi-finals, where the first place of Group A will play the runner up of Group B and vice versa and the winners will advance to the final.
The top three teams will qualify for the 2016 FIBA Americas under-18 championship.
The Bahamas will open the tournament August 4 against the USVI, followed by matchups against Barbados and Puerto Rico the following days to complete the group stage.
The top two teams from each group will qualify for a semi-final, where the first place of Group A will play the runner up of Group B and vice versa. The winners of the semi-finals will advance to the final.
The under-17 boys’ team will be coached by Darrel Sears out of Grand Bahama, assisted by Wayde Adderley from Abaco and Harcourt McCoy from New Providence.
Sears has risen to national prominence with the recent NCAA Division I products he has produced at the helm of the St George’s Jaguars and his annual showcase he hosts in Grand Bahama.
At the 2013 Centrobasket, the Bahamas finished fifth at the tournament with a 71-49 win over El Salvador, but failed to earn a qualifying spot for the 2014 Tournament of the Americas as one of the top three finishers.
Centrobasket is a FIBA-sponsored basketball tournament where national teams from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean compete. The top three or four teams typically earn berths to the FIBA Americas Championship, from which they can qualify for the FIBA World Championship or Olympics.
The top three teams from the Centrobasket Under-17 will qualify for the 2016 FIBA Americas Under-18 championship to be hosted next year.
Teams qualify for these tournaments by finishing high (usually first or second place) in the previous Centrobasket or by placing high at the FIBA COCABA Championship for Mexico and the seven Central American countries and at the FIBA CBC Championship for the 24 Caribbean countries.
In total, 32 countries have an opportunity to qualify their national teams for the Centrobasket.