By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
AFTER a disappointing summer for national basketball teams at both the junior and senior levels, attention shifts to preparation for the senior men and qualification for the FIBA World Cup 2019.
The Bahamas will travel to face Canada in the first round of qualification games on November 24 at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Eighty teams around are vying for the 19 spots at the FIBA World Cup 2019.
Other teams in Group D include the US Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic.
The Bahamas will play their first home game on November 27 against the US Virgin Islands.
Then on Thursday, February 22, the Bahamas will host the Dominican Republic and Canada on Sunday, February 25.
Their final two games will be on the road on Friday, June 29 in the US Virgin Islands and Monday, July 2 in the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic is the top ranked team in the group based on the FIBA World Rankings at 18, Canada follows at 24 and the Virgin Islands are No.59.
Halifax is eagerly anticipating hosting the Bahamas, according to Basketball Nova Scotia’s executive director David Wagg.
“Nova Scotia has a rich history of basketball in Canada and we look forward to welcoming some of the best players our country has to offer to Halifax,” he said in a press release.
Group C will comprise of Mexico, Puerto Rico, United States and Cuba. Group A will comprise of Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and Panama. Group B will include Venezuela, Chile and Colombia.
The top seven teams in the Americas Region will advance.
In preparation for the series of games, BBF vice president Mario Bowleg said the federation intends to assemble a development squad of local players.
“Our players have made it known that they are available because the NBA clubs and those leagues around the world have already been advised by FIFA that they will have to stop so they can release their players to play for their respective countries,” Bowleg said at the time of the draw.
“So when you talk about players like Magnum Rolle, Kadeem Coleby and Torrington Cox, just to name a few, they are anxious to come home to compete for the Bahamas. I’ve started the preparation with the communication of these players.”
From the teams they hope to assemble, Bowleg said they would select the national team based on the players who will be available to represent the country.
“While all of the players will practice together, they will be divided and the coaching staff will monitor their progress in an effort to cut the team down to the final 12 to represent the Bahamas,” Bowleg said.
“We will also have another team that we will use as a practice team and out of that, we will select players who will be able to fit in whenever a player who was selected to the original team won’t be able to play for some reason or the other.”