Teams to miss final over brawl


Senior Sports Reporter


AS stipulated by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the CI Gibson Rattlers and the CC Sweeting Cobras were denied the opportunity to participate in the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association’s basketball postseason, thus being denied a chance to play for another senior boys title this week.

In their absence, due to their suspension for the role they played in a brawl that occurred on the opening day of the season, the pennant-winning RM Bailey Pacers will meet the CR Walker Knights in the best-of-three championship series that will begin on Thursday at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium.

But as they sit and watch, Cobras’ coach Mario Bowleg said they are looking ahead to the bigger picture and that is for his CC Sweeting to defend their title in the prestigious Hugh Campbell Basketball Classic that will get underway on Monday at the AF Adderley Gymnasium.

“You’re not taking anything out on anybody with the situation that occurred,” Bowleg said. “We are more focussed. We would have loved to play in the GSSSA and get another opportunity to win that.

“But the opportunity didn’t occur, so we know that the biggest crown has always been the Hugh Campbell and we still have an opportunity to win that. We will just take that moment, cherish it and get ready for the battle when it come our way.”

If any of their rivals think that the Cobras will be coming unprepared, Bowleg advised them to think again. They will definitely be ready.

“We have been practicing just as normal, but we have been going a little harder knowing that we don’t have to worry about whether there is a game the next day or not,” he said.

“We have been scrimmaging with some of the division one men’s teams and they were able to give us the competition that we need to keep us sharp. We were able to execute what we intend to execute when we get on the court.”

While they are disappointed in the fact that they didn’t get a chance to play, Bowleg said they are wishing both coach Nigel Ingraham and his Pacers and coach Trevor Grant and his Knights as they clash in the GSSSA final.

“They have their opportunity and we want to wish them good luck. May the best team win,” Bowleg said. “But at the end of the day, it’s still going to be boiled down to who is crowned the Hugh Campbell champions.

“Then we are going to see who is the better team. We won’t have anything to determine that because everybody will get the chance to get on the basketball court and play, including CC Sweeting and CI Gibson. In due time, we will get that opportunity to display our skills on the court.”

What is so interesting about this year’s tournament, in addition that it’s the first time that two prominent teams have not been able to play in the GSSSA postseason, is the fact that the round robin games return to a refurbished AF Adderley Gymnasium.

“I have a few players who came from AF Adderley and I myself played for AF Adderley, so those players who never had the opportunity to play in the gym will get an idea of what it is to play in the real Hugh Campbell at AF Adderley,” Bowleg said.

“It’s a whole different atmosphere when you play in AF Adderley. It’s a smaller environment and you get a greater feeling from the fans during the week and you could hardly heard your team from the noise.

“It’s great to be back in there and I hope that they can continue to play the tournament there as long as the tournament is alive.”

Like they did in the latter years before the AF Adderley Gymnasium was eventually closed down, organisers intend to stage the final two days, including the playoffs and the championships, at Kendal Isaacs.

A press conference is scheduled for today to outline the plans for this year’s tournament.

While the Cobras are the tournament’s defending champions, the Rattlers are the defending GSSSA champions, having won the title last year over the Cobras. Rattlers’ coach Kevin ‘KJ’ Johnson was unavailable for comments.

The GSSSA championships is scheduled to start on Thursday and continue on Friday. If necessary, the third and deciding game in the series is tentatively set for Saturday in order to have the champion crowned before the start of the Hugh Campbell Tournament on Monday.

It’s expected that organisers will have a full slate of 32 teams entered in the tournament that will be divided into four pools of six teams coming from throughout the country.


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