Statistician Charwayne Walker continues his look back this week with the visit to Guyana in 1965 by the American Athletic Union Basketball team as he goes back down memory lane in keeping with our 50th Independence Anniversary.
One year before independence, July 1965, basketball in British Guiana was given a tremendous boost with the visit of the high profile American Athletic Union basketball team. The tour was made possible through the Department of States’ Educational and Cultural Exchange Programme with the British Guiana Basketball Association acting as hosts.
Key men in the United States squad: Jim Brovelli began his basketball career playing at a high school in San Francisco and was named San Francisco Player of the Year in 1960, Jim was a student at the University of San Francisco.
Lee Lemos was born in Latvia and lived most of his early childhood in Germany until he came to the United States in 1950 and was adopted by an American family. He was an outstanding basketball player in Kentucky, wining state, regional, conference and district honours. Lee played university basketball at Eastern Kentucky State College and was the fifth highest scorer in the school’s history.
Leon Clements, a student of Ouachita Baptiste University in Arkansas where he studied Biology and Physical Education. He had been a regular starter in every varsity basketball at the University and during his career has broken several conference and career scoring records.
Rodney Hoist played his basketball at Colorado State College as a center. He played in National Collegiate Athletic Association Regional Tournament and was voted most valuable player on his team. After graduation from the University, Rodney Hoist taught at a school in Denver, Colorado and joined an amateur team in the city. His team took second place in the 1965 Amateur Athletic Tournament.
The coach of the United States team was Bill Vining and the manager was John Lewis.
The 1965 team was led by Godfrey “Chin” St. Hill with Hewley Henry as player coach. The tourists opened their 1965 British Guiana Tour with an emphatic 80-31 points victory at Burnham’s Court at Parade Ground against a rest team led by Joseph Small. Other members of the rest squad included Derek Spence, Stuart Spence, Melroy Fitzalbert, Bolton Applewaite. Gordon Spooner, Frederick Clarke, Lenny Braithwaite, Maurice Chase, Patrick Hanes. After trashing the rest team at Burnham’s Court, Parade Ground, the tourist engaged British Guiana in three international matches at Queens College auditorium.
The Athletic Union basketballers won 96-48. Gene Summers was outstanding for the visitors with a game high 19 points; he was supported by Verne Benson with 18 points, Calvin Fowler 14 points, Lee Lemos 14 points and Rodney Hoist 12 points. Eagles’ Compton Nicholson top scored for British Guiana with 14 points. Player- coach Hewley Henry lent support with 13 points, while the late Charles ‘Torani’ Clements finished with 12 points.
The American Athletic Union Basketball Team won 74-43, Gene Summers top scored again for the visitors with 23 points. Calvin Fowler 12 points, Verne Benson 10 points. Charles ‘Torani’ Clements top scored for British Guiana with 12 points, Compton Nicholson had another solid game with 11 points, while player –coach Hewley Henry had 7 points.
The Americans dominance continued in Game Three with a 102-34 points blow out. Calvin Fowler was fantastic for the Americans with a game high 26 points. Verne Benson supported Fowler with 18 points, Lee Lemos finished with 13 points. Charles ‘Torani’ Clements again was the outstanding British Guiana player with 10 points, Eldon ‘Rocking chair’ Vaughn had 5 points. Although British Guiana lost the series to their more superior opponents the experience gained would later prove to be invaluable.
After independence in 1966, Guyana basketballers toured Boa Vista in 1968 and played unbeaten, Hewley Henry’s men also swept Suriname 3-nil in 1969. The following year, 1970 Guyana played under the captaincy of Royals’ Ronald Pickering and won an International Triangular Series involving Trinidad and Tobago and Martinique. Guyana also humbled Trinidad and Tobago again at the Central American Championship in Venezuela in 1971 and was very competitive against El Salvador, host Venezuela, Panama and Puerto Rico.
The 1965 American Amateur Athletic Union Basketball Team
Bill Vining –coach
John Lewis –manager
The 1965 British Guiana Team
Godfrey ‘Chin’ St. Hill -deceased
Charles ‘Torani’ Clements- deceased
Hewley Henry –player/coach
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