The Bahamas Basketball Federation was faced with the dilemma of securing the necessary funding to send its men’s national team off to the FIBA AmeriCup 2022 Qualifiers from November 27 to December 1.
Now federation president Mario Bowleg said their problems have been compounded by the fact that they are not allowed to work out in the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium before they leave in two weeks for Indianapolis, Indiana.
FIBA had originally scheduled Pool D where the Bahamas will be matched against the United States and Puerto Rico to play in Puerto Rico, but Bowleg said they decided to move the games to Indianapolis where the teams will play in a bubble as was done in the National Basketball Association’s regular season.
After playing the United States and Puerto Rico in Indianapolis on November 29 and 30 respectively, the federation will return the favour and host the two teams in February, hopefully in one of the makeshift gymnasiums in either Atlantis or Baha Mar.
After applying to the Competent Authority and the Ministry of Health, Bowleg said they were granted permission to use the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium.
But he said while working out on Thursday and Friday, he got a call on Sunday from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, indicating that they had to relocate to the AF Adderley Gymnasium. “We now have to prepare the premier team in the country to train in the AF Adderley Gymnasium, which does not meet the international standards court size to prepare the team for powerhouses like the United States and Puerto Rico,” Bowleg said.
“We’ve requested from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, the use of the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium, which meets the recommended requirements, but for some reason, we have been told that it’s not available for us to use.”
Despite the fact that Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium is off limits in the coronavirus pandemic, Bowleg said the federation is still pressing on and doing all they can to get the team ready to represent the Bahamas at the end of the month.
Bowleg said there are a few players who have threatened that they will not play because they feel they are being treated unfairly in working on their craft to get ready to compete against two of the top countries, not just in the region, in the world. “I’m having challenges with some of the players who feel that they are not being put in the right atmosphere to get ready for this high level of competition,” said Bowleg of the AF Adderley Gym, which is 88-feet in length and 40 feet in width, compared to Kendal Isaacs, which meets the international standards and FIBA regulations of 94 by 50.
“As the president of the federation, I support the players. They shouldn’t have to be going though this where they are trying to qualify for the 2024 Olympics and they can’t get to use the top basketball facility in the country.”
Bowleg, however, said the federation is working along with head coach Chris DeMarco, an assistant coach of the Golden State Warriors, to put the best team possible from the list of players available.
The NBA has announced that they will be preparing for the opening of their 2020/2021 season on December 22 with teams beginning their training camp on December 1.
That, according to Bowleg, may rule out both Chavano ‘Buddy’ Hield of the Sacramento Kings and Deandre Ayton of the Phoenix Suns from participating in the games in Indianapolis, if they don’t get their releases from the NBA.
Bowleg said they are also expected to exclude both Kadeem Coleby and Mark St Fort, who are scheduled to clash in a head-to-head meeting with their respective teams in the Japanese League on December 2.
But Bowleg said they have a few players at home, including DeShon Taylor, Eugene Bain and Michael Bain, who are making themselves available for service.
He noted that two professional players - Michael Carey Jr and Shaquille ‘Shaq’ Cleare - are both home, but have indicated that they are not fit to compete in the games, so they will opt not to travel with the team.
Travis Munnings, Michael Thompson Jr, Willis Mackey, Juran Cornish, Dominique Bridgewater, Gregory Rolle Jr, Kenton Smith, Johnathan Farwell, Lourawls ‘Tum Tum’ Nairn, Nathan Bain and Rashad Mackey are some of the players who are available to compete.
“We have some guys who are in the United States, who were preparing to come home to work out with the team, but we advised them not to because we don’t have the use of the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium,” Bowleg said.
“Those who are here, we are advising them to continue to work on their game and their physical fitness because we travel in two weeks to Indianapolis where we will have to find a facility to get the team ready.”
The federation has already received an endorsement of $30,000 to assist with the estimated budget of $80,000 to cover the expenses for the team. But he noted that the figures could go up as they now have to leave a little earlier than expected to train together in Indianapolis.
Bowleg noted that they have been assured by Timothy Munnings, the director of sports in the MOYSC, that they will receive some funding, but they have not been given any indication exactly how much it will be.
“We are just trying to get the guys to stay focused and not worrying about the things that impede our progress, just getting into the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium and the funding to travel,” he said.
“I just want them to see the rainbow at the end of the tunnel and that is to try and get basketball to become the first team sport to qualify for the Olympics and so we thank the Bahamas Olympic Committee for being with us from the start of this process.”