By Sean Devers
Watched a disappointing turnout, hosts Guyana defeated Grenada 90-73 on the opening night of the Goodwill Basketball tournament at the Cliff Anderson National Sportshall on Friday evening.
At half-time Guyana had registered a 20-point advantage with the scoreboard reading Guyana 48, Grenada 28.
Ray Victor (39), Terron Welch (19) and Travis Belgrave (18) scored the bulk of the points for Guyana, while Andrew James (17) and Jonathon Williams (15) were the leading scorers for the team from the Spice Isle. Greg St John and Elmond Williams also notched double digit points for the visitors.
The best period for the visitors was in the third quarter. With Guyana leading 60-40 the Grenadians reduced the lead to two points with James scoring two three-pointers, while they netted a few layups before the young local side rebounded to dominate the final quarter for their comfortable win.
Grenada’s Head Coach Naka Joseph explained that last year’s Caribbean Basketball Championships where they finished sixth was the first time in 28 years that Grenada had participated in a Regional tournament.
“Playing here will test our player’s ability as your boys play at a higher level than we are used to back home. This is a personal experience that the players can learn from ….the different tactics and styles of the various players. That is something you cannot Coach. That’s why tournaments like this are important for the development of Basketball in the smaller Islands,” the Head Coach said.
Coach Joseph called for more ‘friendly’ tournaments which will help to develop the players and provide them with exposure and experience.
Now that it’s known what they are up against, Coach Joseph expects to see some level of improvement in the next two games against a team which only recently opposed Colombia.
“In any sport, the more games you play your game should improve. The more you play the more experienced you become and experience brings confidence which is an important aspect to being successful. So it’s important for the bigger Islands like Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad to host more
regional tournaments,” Joseph stressed.
“I wouldn’t say that Basketball is big in Grenada but the game is played at schools which have outdoor courts. We also play in the Windward Islands tournaments and we have a few Professionals who were granted scholarships,” Joseph informed.
He added that funding for overseas trips and internal development programmes is an issue with Track and Field and Boxing getting the bulk of the funding from the Olympic Association and Government.
Coach Joseph suggested that corporate entities like Exxon Mobil should step up to help fund sporting bodies in Countries in which they operate.
Senior Grenadian Baller, Greg St John, one of seven players who played against Guyana last year June in Suriname, also said tours like this was a good thing.
“This the first time we have played on a hardwood Court since in Grenada we don’t have indoor facilities….what we have is a covered court with plastic tiles so playing on a wood floor was a new experience for the guys,” the dreadlocked St John said.
St John is among the Basketball players with the experience of travelling to overseas tournaments since his club team, Sparklers, has played in Suriname, Barbados, St Vincent and Trinidad for tournaments held by those territories.
Joseph is the Coach of Sparklers which is one of about ten Basketball clubs on the 134.6 Square-mile Island.
The team departs Guyana on Monday but although Joseph noted that his charges are here to focus on Basketball they took some time off on Friday to tour Banks DIH to see how Banks Beer, the national Beer of Guyana, is made.
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