PLAYERS practicing in AF Adderley Gymnasium over the weekend. Photos: Racardo Thomas/Tribune staff
By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
THE Bahamas Basketball Federation’s junior national basketball team is preparing to travel to Puerto Rico next month for the Centro Basket Under-15 Girls Tournament and according to coach Varel Davis, they will ensure that they have the best players selected.
The team began practicing about a month ago at the AF Adderley Gymnasium in preparation for the tournament, scheduled for June 24 to July 1. When they return, Davis said they will take the under-16 team to a similar tournament, but they are waiting on a date and venue to be confirmed.
Her management team, consisting of assistant coaches Taronya Wildgoose from Grand Bahama, Anton Francis and Shakira Farrington, has already made a cut of players from the team and they are now trimming it down to the actual size to get everybody in tip-top shape to compete.
“So far, we’ve had about 30 girls who came out every Saturday, and now we are narrowing it down because we want to get the team ready,” Davis said.
During the recent Noble Preparatory Academy Tournament a couple of weeks ago, Davis said they put in a team to allow the coaches to assess the skills of the players during a game situation and she was quite impressed with what she saw.
“We have some good bigs, who could play in the paint and we have some excellent ball handlers,” Davis said. “We just need to sharpen their skills because most of them haven’t played any basketball since the pandemic. So it’s going to take some time to get them where we want them to be.”
Francis said things are looking pretty good and he’s confident that they will perform very well.
“The fact that Covid-19 kept the girls inactive, they look pretty good in practice,” he said. “We have some very good girls and there are some girls who need a little more work. But we hope to take the best talent available in the country.”
On hand to lend his experitse during Saturday’s practice was coach James ‘Jimmy’ Clarke, now a consultant with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, headed by Minister Mario Bowleg, who was also in the AF Adderley Gym watching.
“I just tried to discuss with them a little bit of ball handling and shooting skills, defensive skills and their footwork,” said Clarke, one of the winningest high school coaches in the prestious Huge Campbell Basketball Classic.
“That’s the most important thing for them because in order to be a good ball player, you need footwork. If they can do that, it will add to their defence and enable them to be more porductive offensively.”
From what he’s seen, Clarke said the team looks good with some height on it and he encouraged the coaches to continue to get the players ready for the tournament.
He said he looks forward to coming back and assist the team before they head off. He said he’s confident that wheverer they go “they will produce some fireworks. They look that good.”