By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
Without any response to their request to stage practice to select the national teams for the under-17 boys and girls skills challenge, the Bahamas Basketball Federation had no other choice than to withdraw from the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Americas Region competition for qualification for the World Cup Skills Challenge.
Federation president Mario Bowleg said they were so disappointed in not getting any response from the Ministry of Health, they had to inform FIBA yesterday that they will be withdrawing the teams, even though they had missed the deadline of August 1 for the competition scheduled for this weekend.
“Understanding the Competent Authority and agreeing to their decision to impose such measures to control this pandemic, it’s in poor taste when you don’t get a response from those who we would have sent an e-mail to, explaining the protocol for the competition and the protocol imposed by the health officials from the Bahamas,” Bowleg said.
“The skills challenge is only one person on the court at a time. It’s similar to what they do in the NBA All-Star weekend. But we never received a response, even after we explained to them and indicating the time frame that was against us to practice and to cut a team. We never got a response. So we did the next best thing and that is to contact FIBA and explained to them that we will have to withdraw the teams.”
The teams, whose coaching staff was headed by Marvin Henfield, had a total of 116 athletes, including 89 males from New Providence and eight from Grand Bahama with 19 females from New Providence, registered to participate in the trials.
While it would not have been practical for the players to travel from Grand Bahama as the borders were closed, Bowleg said they felt they had sufficient players in Nassau to make up the 10-member teams for the boys and girls.
“We just couldn’t put a team out there who never had an opportunity to practice, or to prepare themselves for the competition,” Bowleg said.
“But with this being a virtual competition, which means there’s no contact whatsoever, if they had taken the opportunity to read what we had presented to them or to try and figure it out, they would have been able to see that we would have taken the steps guided by them to protect the players, we could have still prepared a team.”
Bowleg, however, said it was not in the best interest for the federation to just try to put the team together without a practice to compete. The good thing, he noted, is that FIBA will not be penalising the Bahamas for withdrawing because of the circumstances. But he said he was just disappointed that they never got a response.
“Life has to go on. We are trying to live in this new norm and sports is one that we have to live with,” Bowleg said. “The NBA and the WNBA is playing in a bubble in Florida.
“So we have to find ways and means of how we are going to proceed with sports in the various disciplines. The skills challenge would have been an ideal way for us to show and prove that contact sports can still be played without any contact in a virtual competition with social distance.”
Once the teams were selected, the federation was hoping to play either out of the Kendal Isaacs or AF Adderley Gymnasium for the Americas tournament, scheduled for August 10-16. If successful, the teams will advance to the World Cup finals, set for August 17-23.