BBF ratifies women’s national team
After five weeks of training and practices, the Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF) has ratified a 12-member team that is expected to reclaim its prominence in the region, and bring some glory back to the islands of The Bahamas in women’s basketball.
The team, which has obtained title sponsorship from Courtyard by Marriott, will leave for the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) Women’s Caribbean Cup in Paramaribo, Suriname, this Wednesday. The preliminary phase for the tournament begins on Sunday at the Anthony Nesty Sports Hall in the Surinamese capital and concludes next Tuesday. The first and second placed teams from each group will advance to the semifinals and the top three nations, based on results from the semis and third placed game, will qualify for the FIBA Senior Women’s CentroBasket Championships in Puerto Rico later this summer.
The team members are: Valerie Nesbitt, Pamela Bethel, Shalonda Neely, Taneil Poitier, Latoya Rolle, Tracy Lewis, Ashley Moss, Brea Forbes, Arlia Greene, Taronya Wildgoose, Joette Fernander and Brittenique Harrison. Wayde Watson is the Interim Head Coach in the absence of new University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) Women’s Basketball Head Coach Yolett ‘Coach Yo’ McPhee-McCuin who couldn’t make the trip this year, and he will be assisted by Varel Davis and Anton Francis. Lavardis Johnson is the team manager, and George Burrows is the trainer of the team.
Watson said that he is very confident in the ability of this team that was named at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium yesterday.
“I’m very comfortable with the make-up of this team. We believe that we have a group of young ladies who have showed that they are truly committed to the program. I want to publicly applaud them for the effort that they have displayed because I am somewhat of a rigid taskmaster when it comes to coaching and they have all responded positively. The attitude of all the players is very good,” said Watson. “We hope to do our best as we represent our families, The Bahamas, and ourselves individually as we travel to compete.”
Watson thanked the coaching staff, the trainer and the team manager for the job that they have done so far and expressed confidence in them for the task ahead.
On hand for the naming of the team yesterday was Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Michael Pintard who congratulated the federation for putting together the team, to the head coach for being elevated to that position, and to the team members themselves for qualifying to represent their country.
“I want to say a special thanks to the corporate sponsors, inclusive of Courtyard Marriott, who have come on board. They are setting the pace for other corporate citizens to sponsor our national teams and we encourage them to come on board,” said the minister. “We encourage the public to support this team. One of the things that we suggest to corporate citizens is that our athletes could be spokespersons for your companies and your products. We encourage you to get to know them and to sign agreements with them or their agents in order to support them. The ministry pledges its ongoing support to the federation and to this particular team.”
Director of Finance at the Courtyard by Marriott Leon Lundy extended congratulations to the national team on behalf of the corporate sponsor, and wished them all the best in their endeavors.
“As a corporate partner, we take pride in helping the Bahamas Basketball Federation and any community development that they have with the national team,” he said.
Technical Director of the BBF Steve Barnes said that they in the federation are really excited about the future of basketball in The Bahamas on both the men and women’s sides.
“With the men and women that we have in the program, and the ones who are up and coming, this is as good of a time in Bahamas basketball as ever to be involved,” he said. “We are really trying to maximize the talent that is coming through. We wish our best to the team.”
A number of the team members have played collegiately, or still do play college basketball.
Point guard Valerie Nesbitt had a strong first season for Chipola College. She averaged 10.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game in her first season for the Chipola College Lady Indians.
“I just feel the need to be a big leader for this team because my position is an extension of the coach on the floor. If I could do what I’m supposed to do and be a leader, I think that we could do good in the tournament and come out with a favorable result,” she said.
Former Benedict College post player Brittenique Harrison said that she has a lot of confidence in this team.
“A lot of us have been playing together from the junior level straight up so there is a lot of chemistry. I believe that we will go out there and do well,” she said.
Former Yellowstone Christian College player Taneil Poitier said that they are all together and focussed on the task at hand.
“We have a lot of speed and I think that we will be very competitive,” she said. “We might not have the size, but they say small axe cut down big tree, so I’m going with that. We will use our speed as our advantage.”
Guard/forward Ashley Moss who played for the Concordia Stingers in Montreal, Canada, last year, said that she is confident in herself and the team to go out there and get the job done.
“Everyone is saying what we’re lacking something, but we come together and work hard every practice. What one person lacks, the next person brings so you can’t say anything is our downfall. All of us together make up a good team,” she said. “We accept the mission and we will try to conquer. That’s our goal.”
Brea Forbes, a junior guard for Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, North Carolina, also expressed confidence in the group.
“We have been working very hard for the past five weeks. I like the attitude of the team and I like the chemistry that we have. I feel there is nothing that we can’t accomplish. We just have to go out there play hard, play as team and we will be fine.”
Interim Head Coach Watson who is stepping in for McPhee-McCuin in this tournament said that they definitely utilize their speed to their advantage. McPhee-McCuin has been the head coach of the senior women’s national team for the past four years and is still a part of the national program, but because of collegiate commitments, she was unable to dedicate her time to coaching this particular team.
“We have speed in the backcourt, youth, and the frontcourt is dynamic as well,” said Watson. “We have experience as well and that will provide with some of the level of competitiveness that we need. There is a lot of pressure for me coming behind ‘Coach Yo’, who did a yeoman’s job. A lot of people doubt this team and our ability to compete at a high level so I hope they see this as an opportunity to go ahead and prove the naysayers wrong. We want to play as a team and compete as a team but I hope they realize that we do have a monkey on our back and just go out there and prove the doubters wrong.”
Assistant Coach Davis, who was a part of the Bahamian national squad that won gold at the FIBA CBC (Caribbean Basketball Confederation) Championship for Senior Women three years ago, reiterated that they will use their quickness to their advantage.
“We have a lot of speed and we will use that to our advantage,” she said. “We have a bunch of talented young ladies and our job is to go there and come back with a medal. I think that we are going to be very competitive. We are ready to go.”
BBF Vice President Mario Bowleg said that this team is a well-rounded one, and he looks forward to some promising results.
The FIBA Women’s Caribbean Cup will be held ahead of the FIBA AmeriCup 2021 Caribbean Pre-Qualifier that will get underway June 24 at the same venue. The FIBA AmeriCup 2021 Caribbean Pre-Qualifier is a qualifier for the FIBA AmeriCup 2021 Qualifiers beginning in September.