By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
AFTER months under quarantine in Spain since his rookie season of pro basketball abruptly concluded due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Willis Mackey Jr is one of many Bahamian residents who have finally returned home.
Mackey documented his journey via his Youtube channel as the benefit of one of a series of repatriation flights arranged by the Government of the Bahamas. “It was an amazing experience, and I can’t say thank you enough to everyone involved in making this a possibility. I’m so happy to be home with my family and my sisters right now,” he said. “When we got home we were confronted by these nurses and had to sign papers saying that we will be quarantined for 14 days. We also had to sign up for an app that will track our location so if we leave the house it tells the authorities our location. Right now I’m in quarantine for 14 days, but I’m happy to be home just to spend time with my family.”
Mackey was based in Salamanca, Spain, and plays for Aquisima Carbajosa of the Liga Española de Baloncesto Aficionado, commonly known as Liga EBA. He was named the EBA’s Eurobasket Player of the Year, Import Player of the Year, Forward of the Year and was an All-EBA 1st Team selection. He led the club with 16.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.
He travelled from Madrid to London on a British Airways flight chartered by the Cayman Islands government connected from London to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. The Bahamian government then coordinated with the Turks and Caicos government to run a connecting Bahamasair flight to Nassau. Bookings for the special humanitarian flight were made available through the Bahamian High Commission in London.
“COVID-19 has meant that families have found themselves kept apart due to border closures, travel restrictions, and lack of commercial air traffic routes,” according to a press release from the British High Commission. ‘With an ocean between them, those Bahamian nationals and residents in the United Kingdom and Europe have had a particularly tough waiting period to be united with their loved ones.”
Mackey made his pro debut last October with 20 points and nine rebounds against La Antigua. He posted four double doubles on the season highlighted by 31 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks in a November matchup against Chatanda.
A season of milestones for Mackey also included his debut as a member of the Bahamas senior men’s national team in the latest window of FIBA AmeriCup Qualifiers.