By BRENT STUBBS
It’s not how you start, nor how you get there. Most importantly, it’s how you finish.
• The Finish Line, a weekly column, seeks to comment on the state of affairs in the local sports scene, highlighting the highs and the lows, the thrills and the spills and the successes and failures.
The Week That Was
After a two-year hiatus, Chris ‘Fireman’ Brown got back on track in hosting his second Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational at the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium over the weekend.
The one-day event, which served as a prelude to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in August, attracted a number of top international athletes primarily from the United States and the Caribbean. It ended up producing a few world- leading performances as many of the athletes made their season debut.
Looking back on the event, which was held under the theme: ‘Catch the Fire,’ Brown said he was pleased with the support he got from the Local Organising Committee, headed by Herbert Cash III, the Bahamas Government, the Bahamian fans and the athletes.
“I must say we can give ourselves an A tonight,” said Brown at the end of the meet. “It’s a blessing. When God has something for you, know one can take it away. Even though the past two years were two sad years, the athletes came out and they supported the event.”
While he was prepared to put the disappointments of the past two years behind him and declined to relive the difficulties of why they were not held since he staged the initial invitational in 2013, Brown said he’s eager to press forward to make the event bigger and better as it continues to grow.
In retrospect, Brown lamented that there are still some growing pains that he has to endure, but once he can get the support of the Bahamian people, especially corporate Bahamas, the event can become a staple on the calendar for the athletes, including the Bahamians, as it was quite evident that they were all, for the most part, thrilled to be competing here.
There are some things that will probably have to change in the way forward.
But there were some outstanding performances turned in, especially from Bahamians Shaunae Miller, Bianca ‘BB’ Stuart, Leevan ‘Superman’ Sands, Donald Thomas, Trevor Barry, Jamal Wilson, Stephen Newbold, Jeffery Gibson, Steven Gardiner, Adrian Griffith, just to name a few to go along with international stars like LaShawn Merritt, Kirani James, Christian Taylor, Justin Gatlin, David Oliver, Tori Bowie and Michelle Lee-Ahye.
Some of these athletes are going to be the headliners in Brazil, so it was nice to get a chance to see them in action before they go on to on to compete in the biggest sporting spectacular on the planet.
Brown, 37, didn’t compete because of the work load that he had to endure as a promoter. But if he goes to Rio, he will be making his fifth appearance at the Olympics, a feat that is unheard of for international athletes. It’s just a testimony to the work ethic, the commitment and dedication that he has demonstrated over the years in being one of the elite quartermilers on the planet.
I’m sure that whenever he decides to hang up his spikes and concentrate full time on his new role as a promoter, Brown will become a household name because just about every athlete that you talked to about him, had nothing but admiration for the Eleuthera native, who now resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with his family.
For me personally, it was a pleasure to work with Brown and the LOC and while I have some recommendations, I prefer to wait until the appropriate time to make the observations. But from my vantage point, I was certainly pleased that the event is back and it turned out to be a success.
Looking forward to seeing the third edition next year.
JONES DID IT
For the past two years, the build up has been leading to this, Jonquel Jones becoming the first Bahamian to get a lottery pick in the Women’s National Basketball Association’s Draft.
The George Washington Colonials’ forward was picked sixth by the Los Angeles Sparks last Thursday night, but before she could really celebrate, she was traded to the Connecticut Sun for Chelsea Gray and the team’s No. 1 draft pick next year.
“Got to adapt and make changes,” Jones said moments after getting drafted.
The Grand Bahamian native was never one to pass up a challenge and based on the performances she turned in at George Washington, I’m sure that she will become a star in the WNBA. She will of course become the second Bahamian to play in the WNBA.
Waltiea Rolle, a 6-6 centre, holds the distinction of being the first when she was selected in the third round (36th overall) by the Minnesota Lynx in the 2013 WNBA Draft.
After playing in all three pre-season games with the Lynx, averaging 7.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game, Rolle opted to forego her entire 2013 WNBA season to complete her degree in sports administration and exercise sports science at the University of North Carolina, and playing overseas.
Rolle, however, was waived by Minnesota and she was then called up on a string of seven-day contracts late last season for the Seattle Storm. She saw time in six games, averaging 2.7 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. The only game in which she saw substantial minutes (31), August 15, 2014 at Los Angeles, Rolle posted her first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Jones, 22, will now carry the Bahamian flag in the WNBA and everybody is looking forward to her producing a fantastic career.
We wish her every success in her future endeavours.
Coach Wayde Watson and his Mail Boat Cybots popped the champagne again at the AF Adderley Gymnasium on Wednesday night as they celebrated as the New Providence Basketball Association champions, a feat they had not achieved since 2013.
After leading 3-0 in their best-of-seven championship series, many felt as if the Commonwealth Bank Giants would rebound and pull off the back-back sweep after winning the last two games.
But even without Eugene Bain, who was ejected in game five, the Cybots got back to what helped them to stake their early lead and they prevailed in gave six with a 20-point rout.
Livingstone Munnings, who has been a monster in the paint on both the offensive and defensive end of the court, was named the most valuable player, an honour he so rightfully deserves after he averaged 14.17 points, 16.17 rebounds, 4.17 block shots, 1.5 assists and 1.33 steals per game.
Now it’s on to the Bahamas Basketball Federation’s National Round Robin Tournament that will be played next weekend at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium.
The Cybots joined the Bommer G Lady Operators, who won the New Providence Women’s Basketball Association title, to earn the rights to represent New Providence.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The focus of attention will switch to soccer with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in conjunction with the Bahamas Football Association getting ready to host the National High School Soccer Championships next week.
The workmen are busy transforming the Roscow Davies Developmental Centre at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex into a venue to behold as the five senior boys’ and girls’ teams get ready to clash starting on Monday.
While the Sir Jack Hayward Wildcats and the Lucayan International School will be representing Grand Bahama in the boys’ and girls’ divisions respectively, they will be matched against the top teams from New Providence.
On the boys’ side are the St Andrew’s Hurricanes, CR Walker Knights, CV Bethel Stingrays and Queen’s College Comets. The girls’ teams are Queen’s College, CR Walker, St Augustine’s College Big Red Machine and CC Sweeting Cobras.
The tournament is expected to run for the entire week with the championships scheduled for Saturday.