Apr 23, 2021 Sports
By Calvin Chapman
Kaieteur News – Last week was significant for local basketball as the Guyana Amateur Basketball Federation (GABF) for the first time in history had their senior men’s team make an appearance at the International Basketball Federation’s (FIBA) 2023 World Cup (WC) CONCENCABA pre-qualifiers which was held at the Adolfo Pineda Gymnasium in San Salvador, El Salvador.
And that was it, an appearance, as team Guyana managed zero wins from their four one-off round-robin matches. This ordinary performance was played out although the Guyanese were the second highest ranked team in the pre-qualifiers following an alleged “unacceptable” last minute addition of Jamaica.
However, team Guyana lost even before the first whistle was blown so fans and stakeholders should be less critical of the team and examine the root causes of such a disappointing performance despite losing three of their four games agonisingly close.
They say that failure to prepare is preparing for failure and Guyana was definitely not well prepared for this tournament as is the bugbear for most of our sportspersons and associations but we will talk about basketball this time.
Guyana’s failure to prepare for such an important opportunity is highlighted by lack of infrastructural and financial support. For years, even decades, basketball has been on the backburner with only one indoor facility which is the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall (CASH) on Homestretch Avenue.
Uses of the CASH is shared by the GABF and Guyana Amateur Basketball Association (GABA) along with other sports such as hockey, table tennis and football. Besides the CASH, there are the Vryman’s Erven in Berbice, Burnham (Carmichael Street) and Mackenzie Sports Club (Linden) Outdoor Courts which are nowhere near what the standard should be.
This begs the question: How is basketball going to improve in Guyana? How can the player pool be widened and developed if something as basic as having somewhere to play is not available. Especially since the GABF can’t depend on international players with the FIBA rules only allowing for one naturalised (not born in Guyana) player on national teams.
Notwithstanding the tasteless and emotional comments by fans and persons whose mandate should be to support the development and promotion of sport, before the team even departed ‘The Land of Many Waters’ for El Salvador, the amount of time the team had to prepare was not enough.
Head Coach of the team, Junior Hercules who came under a lot of criticism on social media and in local basketball forums for his poor management of the side in crucial moments of the game, had publicly stated that he was not happy with the amount of time the team had to train together despite the pandemic.
The National Covid-19 Task Force came under heavy criticism after denying the National men’s basketball team permission to just train at the CASH (in preparation for this important assignment) early in the year despite others being granted permission to actually compete in other sports.
Financial support – When Guyana were crowned champions of the region for the first time in the depleted 2018 Caribbean Basketball Confederation (CBC) Men’s championship in Suriname, many believed that the corporate community would’ve been lining up to support the sport but that wasn’t the case and in fact, Team Guyana were not even substantially honoured by the state for their success.
Some blame should be put on the Basketball Federation that is guilty of not mobilising quickly enough at times or following the correct protocol when requesting funding from the corporate community and the state, respectively.
Meanwhile, Basketball being an Olympic Sport, the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) have been called on to do more many times whether it be larger financial aid or through capacity development programmes.
Guyana does not have a national league, a National Club Championship is contested within a two week period and the last time that competition which is dubbed ‘Mecca’ was played was 2018 which helps to solidify the point of the national men’s team losing before the first whistle was blown.
The teams that Guyana were pitted against at the FIBA WC 2023 pre-qualifiers were Jamaica, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, listed below are some facts each association has that would have contributed to them being better prepared.
– Costa Rica doesn’t have a pro league but there are seven first division teams that are supported adequately so that they are able to contest a league that is run from February to September each year.
– Nicaragua has two competitive first and second division pro and semi-pro leagues.
– El Salvador basketball league has grown exponentially from 2015 to present with many players going on to play in top Latin American leagues.
– Jamaica boasts a functional sports policy that has helped the nation become a regional and international powerhouse in sports.
Despite the shortcomings, Guyana did show that they can compete and had some narrow, heartbreaking losses. And, maybe with just a bit more support from all stakeholders, including the fans, the team and the players although not receiving a stipend (as confirmed from two players) will fly the Golden Arrowhead high again as they did at the 2018 CBC Championships.
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