By Calvin Chapman
In February 2019, Guyana’s national Men’s Basketball team which won a historic first Caribbean Basketball Championship title last June will begin the second step of their historic journey in qualifying for the 2021 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Americup championship.
Guyana has been placed in Pool B of the qualifiers alongside Bolivia, Paraguay and potential hosts Colombia with the top two teams qualifying for the tournament which will also see the United States and Canada participating.
According to honourary General Secretary of the Guyana Amateur Basketball Federation (GABF), Patrick Haynes, the host nation of Group B games has not been selected as yet with FIBA sending requests for bids to each participant.
However, he noted that it is highly likely that 2016 FIBA Americup hosts Colombia will win the bid while Guyana will not pursue the opportunity. Haynes explained that two pre-requisites of any potential host include having an air conditioned facility and two electronic scoreboards, both of which Guyana does not have.
The Cliff Anderson Sports Hall (CASH) have hosted regional basketball tournaments in the past but it is not air conditioned and there is only one electronic scoreboard at the Homestretch Avenue facility.
In addition, each bidder will have to deposit an initial US$25,000, which can be better used towards the national team’s projected costly budget of US$80,000 to participate in the tournament.
During an interview yesterday with Kaieteur Sport, the USA based Haynes explained that Guyana will be looking to send a 25-member contingent and the travel cost alone would amount to around US$30,000 since travelling within South America from Guyana is usually challenging and costly.
Some good news for the Guyana team is that after their success in Suriname last June, many players in the Diaspora have reached out to offer their services to the national programme with some plying their in the Spanish First Division League.
In the qualifying tournament that will last for three days and must be completed between the period of February 23 – 28, Paraguay are the highest ranked at 69th followed by Colombia with a world rank of 73rd while the Guyanese who recently broke into the top 100 are positioned 95th with the lowly Bolivia ranked 124th.
However, the Antigua and Barbuda team that Guyana made light work of in the Caribbean Basketball Championship (CBC) final are ranked 75th. Haynes further explained that, “Guyana needs to be more active, we need to keep the momentum, and we need to keep the players together if we are to have a serious chance of qualifying for the Americup. I believe that currently we are a cut above Bolivia and Paraguay so our only threat will be Colombia and we have a good chance of making history by qualifying for our first Americup appearance since the top two teams of the group will move on to the 2021 competition.”
A major positive of the Americup qualifiers is the fact that FIBA will be covering the insurance for all professional players and free agents; one less expense the GABF has to tackle as the body begins its preparations for the historic campaign.
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