By Edison Jefford
When one assesses the past year in local basketball, gross ineptitudes become
glaringly evident in the management of the sport at the national level; at the sub-associations level and at the level of some clubs. This is your year-in-review for local basketball.
The Guyana Amateur Basketball Federation (GABF) brought back the National Basketball Championships to its calendar after it was absent for some time. It was their first major project for the past year, and one that is still mired in controversy.
Georgetown’s second ranked, Pacesetters, defeated Beepat’s Scorpions in one of the two semi-final games of the Division I Championships, setting up a final showdown with Ravens that had beaten Macabbees earlier to advance to the Championships’ final.
We are talking about the month of April here folks, and guess what; the much-anticipated final between Ravens and Pacesetters is yet to happen. It’s now December, the end of the year and eight months after the two finalists in the National Championships were known; yet for some unknown reason (s), the GABF cannot bring these two teams together to decide the best club in the country.
Oh! There was the marriage of Pacesetters Coach, Robert ‘Bobby’ Cadogan that happened on the weekend the final was scheduled. Unfortunately, this has been the excuse for the GABF: that they cannot re-schedule a date for the final because they had so much else happening.
However, at the end of the year, that claim has petered out to absolute nonsense because after the national senior men’s team returned to Guyana in August from competing at the Caribbean Championships, not much else “happened” on the GABF 2011 calendar.
But continuing in a chronological account of the year in local basketball, there was an International Olympic Solidarity (IOC) International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Level I Coaches’ Clinic in Guyana during May 23-30 at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall.
United States-based former National Basketball Association (NBA) Assistant Head Coach, Tom Newell conducted the clinic. It was a good developmental mechanism for the GABF, aimed at expanding the amount of coaches available to the association.
On the successful completion of the clinic, coaches were given an internationally recognised
FIBA Level I Certificate. The course attracted participation from across Guyana, namely Linden, Georgetown, New Amsterdam and Kwakwani.
Following that occasion in May, the GABF continued with its programme when they identified a group of 35 players to tryout for the national senior men’s team, which was eventually reduced to 15 players to compete at the Caribbean Basketball Confederation (CBC) Championships in the Bahamas in July.
Apart from GABF President, David Patterson, fulfilling his declared mission to return Guyana to the competition, much else was not accomplished on that tour. Guyana finished second-to-last and there were reports of immense indiscipline. The GABF cannot take the responsibility for the behaviour of individual players, but there was one issue that they failed to address.
It was widely circulated that the captain of that team (whose name was deliberately left out here) took his girlfriend to the Bahamas with the national team. The gesture caused serious logistic and other problems at the hotel that accommodate the local team.
The captain then became a liability to the team when he reportedly injured his back early in the tournament, forcing him out of the competition. If the GABF was aware that the national captain was taking his girlfriend on tour and allowed that special privilege, when the courtesy was not at all extended to the other players, then the credibility of the GABF must be questioned.
The mere thought of allowing such an act reduces the serious competitive nature of the regional assignment. The incident, among other cases of indiscipline, led to the manager of the team, Ewart Padmore, concluding that the national team went to the Bahamas on a vacation instead of an assignment to seriously compete.
Following the CBC Championships, the GABF benefitted from the ‘Children of the Word Youth Camp’ (a social event for the youths balancing basketball, education and culture) that was held in Istanbul, Turkey, in August during the World Basketball Championships.
The Camp was a multi-national, multi-cultural activity for boys and girls with 400 teenagers, age 14 years, from all over the world and Turkey, and 200 Coaches (under 35 years old). Kirk Fraser (Coach) and two representatives went on behalf of Guyana.
On the interim, the GABF teamed up with Wildfire Entertainment to host what they called an ‘International Friendly Series’. While several international teams initially expected to participate did not turn up, the initiative was a good one toward the development of local basketball.
At the level of schools, the annual National Schools’ Basketball Festival continues to ease some amount of work of the GABF in targeting the schools’ system. The Festival was another success this year and acted as the main source for the selection of 2011 Inter-Guiana Games team.
The junior national team competed in Suriname where they finished third after losing to both the Suriname and French Guiana teams. It was perhaps the first time in recent history that Guyana’s junior national team failed to win at least one game at the Games.
Meanwhile, at the sub-association level, the Linden Amateur Basketball Association has failed to move the sport forward in the community with no know strategic plan for development.
It took a valiant effort from the Victory Valley Royals, who kept their successful schools tournament alive in the community, to ensure that Linden had some basketball this year.
Apart from the Royals tournament, and the Mackeson Smooth Moves three-on-three tournament that had some games in Linden, there was no basketball being played in Linden. The Mackenzie Sport Club Court was completed some months ago and still there was no programme for the proliferation of the sport in Linden.
Previously, the LABA could have rightly blamed the Court that was unavailable for some time owed to controversial renovations.
But like facility issues, Georgetown is now hosting their first tournament of the year for unexplained reasons. If one is to believe that the GABF is as strong as its two sub-associations then the federation is in dire straights after an inept 2011.
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