Bahamasall set for 2014 CentroBasket tournament


Sports Reporter


FOR the Bahamas men’s national basketball team, the path towards an historic berth at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games continues this weekend with the next level of regional qualification.

On the heels of a gold-medal performance at last month’s Caribbean Basketball Confederation Championships, Team Bahamas travels to Nayarit, Mexico, to compete in the 2014 CentroBasket tourney August 1-7.

The Bahamas will be placed in Group B alongside El Salvador, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Group A includes Jamaica, Costa Rica, Panama, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

The first games on the schedule will include a round -robin within the group stage. The top two teams from each group will qualify for a semi-final where the 1st place of Group A will play the second place of Group B and vice versa. The winners of the semi-finals will advance to the finals.

The 2014 Centrobasket Championship qualifies four teams to the 2015 FIBA Americas Championships, which is the step away from qualifying for the 2016 Olympics.

On Friday, August 1, the Bahamas is slated to face Puerto Rico at 7:30pm local time (EST). They will begin the schedule on day two at 2:30pm against El Salvador and on day three, they will face the host country Mexico in the nightcap at 10pm. The final game of the group stage for the Bahamas will be against a familiar CBC foe, the USVI, at 5pm on August 4.

The Centrobasket tournament will not be short on star-power as several NBA players will represent their countries in national team competition.

When they open the tournament against Puerto Rico, the Bahamas will have to contend with NBA veteran point guard JJ Barea of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The host team will feature Atlanta Hawks centre and 2013 FIBA Americas MVP Gustavo Ayon, along with NBA D-League All Defensive First Teamer Jorge Gutierrez.

The Bahamas will be represented in every aspect of the tournament as Grand Bahama’s LeFred Gaitor will be one of the 13 appointed referees for the event, and Fred Brown will serve as one of two referee commissioners.

At the CBC championships, Colorado State’s Larry Eustachy made his debut as national team head coach. They won their opener 84-53 over St Vincent and the Grenadines before losing 90-68 to Antigua.

The Bahamas then bounced back to stun Cuba 77-71 to wrap up the top spot at 2-1 in Group A. In the semifinal, the Bahamas knocked off the host British Virgin Islands 84-65. That set up a rematch in the final against Cuba where the Bahamas pulled off a 75-64 decision to clinch the title and the top spot in the CentroBasket.

Offensively, Magnum Rolle emerged as the second best rebounder with an average of 7.0 per game. Rolle joined Marvin Gray as the scoring leader, both with 69 points for an average of 13.8. Gray was the best passer with an average of 4.6 with a total of 23. Bennet Davis was the ninth best free throw shooter with 16 for a 3.2 average. Alonzo Hinds made the most three-pointers with a total of 10 for the fifth best average of 2.0.

Defensively, Kadeem Coleby had the most blocks on the team with six for a 1.2 average and Gray was third on the steals’ list with 14 for a 2.8 average.

According to national team assistant coach and Bahamas Basketball Federation vice president Mario Bowleg, the team will have to make several adjustments to the roster headed into the Centrobasket.

“We may not have all of the players because some of them have some other obligations,” Bowleg said. “We have lost (Lynden) LJ Rose, who got injured in the first game. Bennet Davis has some objections as does Dwight Coleby. So we will have to make some adjustments,” he said.

The Bahamas last appeared in the Men’s Centrobasket tournament in 2012 where they finished at 2-2 in the group stage and did not qualify for the playoff round and Tournament of the Americas. Should the current roster stand, the Bahamas will feature four players from the 2014 Centrobasket team.


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