Ladies are off to the Centrobasket


Senior Sports Reporter


THE Bahamas women’s national basketball team, with seven players returning from the CentroBasket championship team in the British Virgin Islands two years ago, are off to the 2017 CentroBasket Tournament.

The team, coached once again by Yolett McPhee-McCuin and assisted by Donnie Culmer and Terrance ‘Red Eye’ McSweeney, left town on Independence Day for St Thomas, Virgin Islands where the tournament runs July 12-16.

The Bahamas will be playing against five other teams for one of the three spots that will emerge out of the tournament for the FIFA Women’s AmericCup, scheduled for August 6-13 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Team Bahamas’ opening game will be on Wednesday against Mexico. On Thursday, they will play Jamaica, followed by the Virgin Islands on Friday, Puerto Rico on Saturday and Guatemala on Sunday.

Named to the team are Valerie Nesbitt, Philicia Kelly, Linda Pierre, Shalonda Neely, Samantha Gilbert, Tracy Lewis, Disti Delancy, Joette Fernander, Pamela Bethel, Lashae Rolle and Taneil Poitier.

Jurelle Nairn is the team manager and Sasha Ferguson is the trainer.

Returning from last year’s team are Nesbitt, Poitier, Lewis, Pierre, Kelly, Neely and Delancy.

When asked how she felt about this year’s team, McPhee-McCuin was quite to point out that they have a lot of work to do.

“We’re just trying to clean some things up, but I’m encouraged because e have time,” said McPhee-McCuin, following the team’s full practice session over the weekend before their departure.

“We are just going to continue to work on certain things and try to be better.”

McPhee-McCuin, who was first appointed as the head coach of Team Bahamas in 2012, a year before she took over as the head coach of the Jacksonville Dolphins, which features Neely, a redshirt-sophomore, said she expects the players to bring the same level of intensity that they displayed two years ago when the team won the title over Jamaica.

The tournament also serves as a qualifier for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan and McPhee-McCuin said with the mixture of youth and experience, they should be able to give a good account of themselves.

“We’re trying to get them all together, so it’s encouraging,” she stated. “We need to start to get some new blood in so that we can begin the transition to the future. But I think we will be very well with this team assembled.”

Team Bahamas won’t have the returned services of Shanae Armbrister, the most valuable player from the tournament in 2015, as well as Latoya Thompson, Meleshia Peterson and Ashley Moss. They will also be without the country’s only two professional players will be missing.

Grand Bahamian Jonquel Jones is preparing for her All-Star appearance this weekend in the Women’s National Basketball Association for the Connecticut Suns and Waltiea Rolle, the first Bahamian to play in the WNBA with the Seattle Storm, is reportedly nursing an injury here at home.

But Culmer said they can’t cry over spill milk.

“We have some work to do because we’re not as talented as 2015, but some of the girls have some big heart,” he said. “We just have to go out there and play and let the chips fall where they may.

“It won’t be easy, but we have to play the game between the lines. This is a more competitive tournament from 2015, so if we could have gotten the talent that we originally projected, I know that we would have been in a better position to content for the gold or no least than a silver.”

Culmer, however, said these are the players who report for duty, so they are going to go for it and give it their best shot. He said once they play on Wednesday, they will have a better frame of mind on the way forward for Team Bahamas in the tournament.

In the 2015 tournament, Team Bahamas rallied to out-score Jamaica 19-8 in the fourth quarter to pull of an impressive 55-51 victory for the title.’


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment