By Edison Jefford
Retrieve Raiders is the one team from Linden that could upset the applecart more than any other in the
upcoming National Basketball Championships: The Road to Mecca III given their depth at the first division level and performance against credible oppositions.
Raiders are the highest seeded Linden team on the fixture, but are ranked second to Bulls in Linden owed to them losing the Malta Finals. However, Raiders challenged Bulls to a rematch, and eked out a narrow win that gave some form of consolation.
Raiders are proving their worth in Linden again in a Mashramani tournament currently underway at the MSC Hard Court. Raiders are among the Final Four. The point is despite an absence of youth Raiders have to be counted as a serious contender for the national title.
This is largely because national forward, Dwayne Roberts has returned to the fold after Guyana’s Amateur Basketball Federation (GABF) lifted an imposed ban. He was among some players who refused to return national uniforms after the Caribbean Championships in 2014 in the BVI. There was a penalty attached to disobeying an edict from management.
Notwithstanding his issues off the court, one thing is certain, Roberts is a fierce competitor who will be looking for national redemption. It means that Roberts and the Raiders could ransack any opposition on their way to perhaps the national championships.
Roberts, given his character, will be aiming to be in the national conversation again this year and will know that the only way to do so is to perform. More so, he knows that winning elevates their chances of getting
players named to the national team.
Raiders have a formidable team on paper; their one disadvantage as was so evident when they lost to Bulls in the Malta final; is the fitness of the senior players. Raiders were in the contest up until Bulls raced away from them midway through the third period.
Raiders simply did not have the legs to keep up with the up-tempo Bulls; they were exhausted in the last half which questions their condition. But according to roster, Raiders can present serious threats in The Road to Mecca III if they can overcome the fitness hurdle. They have enough time to get in perfect shape for the March 4 start of the tournament.
Roberts has the national former forward, Neil Marks to offer sufficient support. Both Marks and Roberts have the height to establish presence inside the perimeter and since Kings were dissolved, Raiders acquired forwards Marvin Hartman and Abdulla Hamid.
All four players have height and all four represented Guyana. The problem is how well they will react to transition up-tempo basketball, which seems to be the offensive trend these days. Guard, Keon Cameron will have his work cut out for the team at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall when an expected intense National Championships bounces off in less than three weeks.
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