By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
THE Bahamas Basketball Federation Junior Women’s National Basketball team learned their path toward qualification to more prestigious tournaments in the region, beginning with this year’s Centrobasket.
Yesterday, the draw was revealed at the Regional Offices of FIBA Americas for Centrobasket Under-17 Women’s Championship, to be hosted August 15-19 in Aguada, Puerto Rico.
Participating teams include the Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Suriname.
The Bahamas was placed in Group B along with Suriname, Costa Rica, and the hosts Puerto Rico.
Group A includes El Salvador, the British Virgin Islands, Guatemala and Mexico.
The top-three teams from the tournament will qualify to FIBA Under-18 Women’s Americas Championship 2018.
The competition system of the tournament consists of two phases. In the Group Phase, the eight (8) participating teams will be divided into two (2) groups of four (4) teams. Teams will play in a round-robin format for three days. The best two teams from each group will advance to the next phase, where the first place of Group A will play against the second place in Group B and vice versa. The winners of the Semi-Finals will advance to the Gold Medal Match, while the losers will play for the bronze of the continental event.
“Sports in Puerto Rico are for everyone and the Departamento de Recreacion y Deportes de Puerto Rico is proud to have the opportunity of supporting such initiatives as the Centrobasket U17 Women’s Championship, where more than eight countries including Puerto Rico will be part of an event that will mark precedents in the western side of our Island. We feel extremely honored to be able to collaborate with the Puerto Rican Basketball Federation for these purposes and to promote the development of women, who in the past years have played a leading role in all the professional areas in our country and are part of the public policy of our honorable Governor Ricardo Rossello and this new administration. Thus, our commitment is with Puerto Rico and with the Puerto Rican and foreign women who will be embellishing the history of our sport,” said the Director of the Sports and Recreation Department of Puerto Rico, Hon. Waldemar Volmar Méndez.
The Bahamas qualified for the Centrobasket 2017 tournament after they claimed the 2016 Caribbean Basketball Confederation’s Under-16 title.
The Bahamas won the title with a 55-50 win over Suriname in the title game at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall in Georgetown, Guyana. Tanea Bowleg capped an MVP performance for the Bahamas with19 points and also grabbed 12 rebounds while Valicia Demeritte contributed 14 points and nine rebounds.
Many of the players from that team will compete for roster spots as the Bahamas seeks to advance.
Bowleg led the Bahamas with 15.7 points per game over the course of the tournament while Demeritte scored 15 per game and Briontae Riley scored 9.7 per game. The Bahamas opened with a 59-54 win over Surinam, followed by an 89-36 win over Trinidad and Tobago and qualified for the final with a 55-26 win over Antigua and Barbuda.
With the focus of the region now shifting to Puerto Rico, the mayor of Aguada said his city is ready to host the top national team programmes, their fans and supporters.
“I feel privileged and honored that Aguada is selected as the venue for these games nationwide. We have seen how our people have been an alternative to the development of the Puerto Rican sport. We have excellent facilities, with the human resource specialized in sports and more than anything else the will and commitment to the sports development of our people and an example of this is our team of Santeros, who enjoys having one of the best fan bases of all Puerto Rico. As we have supported that team we will also support this event, and are looking forward to the month of July to welcome all the participants,” said the Honorable Mayor of Aguada, Manuel” Gabina “Santiago.