Buddy joins Team Bahamas
Chavano “Buddy” Hield showed up in Puerto Rico on Tuesday, and had his first two workouts with Team Bahamas ahead of this evening’s pivotal game against the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) for advancement in the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) World Cup Qualifiers.
According to Head Coach Mario Bowleg, the sharp shooting two-guard of the Sacramento Kings made an immediate impact and is ready to lead by example. As it stands now, he will be in the starting line-up with former Michigan State Spartans point guard Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr., former University of Louisiana, Munroe (ULM) forward Travis Munnings, Jaraun “Kino” Burrows who won a Pro B league title with Fos Provence Basket in Fos-sur-mer, France this year; and big man Kadeem Coleby who plays for the Akita Northern Happinets in Akita, Japan.
Hield, who is one of the rising stars in the National Basketball Association (NBA), is the most high-profiled player on the team, and is expected to lead by example.
“He looks good and the team looks good defensively,” said Bowleg yesterday. “Shaq (Shaquille Cleare) came here with a lil bit of a back issue, some back spasms, so right now, we’re looking at a starting line-up of Tum Tum at the point, Buddy at the two-guard spot, Travis Munnings playing the three, Kino at the four and Kadeem in the middle.
“We feel that line-up is working very well together right now and get us off to the start that we need in this game. We’re very confident of our chances.”
The Baha Mar-sponsored Team Bahamas will play the USVI at the Coliseo Roberto Clemente in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at 5 p.m. today. It’s the first of a two-game series for The Bahamas in the final window of the first round of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers for the Americas region. The second game will be against the Dominican Republic (DR) at the Palacio de los Deportes in Santo Domingo, DR, next Monday. The game against the USVI is being played in Puerto Rico due to damage to the home gymnasium of the USVI from the passing of Hurricane Irma in 2017.
To assure itself of a spot into the second round of qualifiers, The Bahamas really needs to win both games, and likely by a certain amount of points as point spread and goal average could come into play. Just the top three teams out of Group D of this FIBA Americas region will advance to the second round of world cup qualifiers. The Bahamas goes into this final window with a winless 0-4 record in the group. The DR is unbeaten at 4-0, Canada sits at 3-1, and the USVI is 1-3.
Led by Hield, The Bahamas has seven new players from the first two windows of the first round of the qualifiers, and four of the five are set to be in the starting line-up. Bowleg is confident that the changes will bring a different result. The Bahamas lost all four games of the qualifiers so far by an average of 27.75 points. Canada beat them by 46 at home.
Bowleg said the first four games are in the past, and they are ready to get the job done.
“Practice went very well with Buddy in there as coaches expected. The chemistry is there for sure,” he said. “What was of particular concern to me was the defensive end. Everyone is locked in defensively and ready to put in the work so that we could accomplish our goal. I think that we have the right group of guys who are capable and willing to defend. I just think that we are very balanced and ready to go.”
Expected to come off the bench for The Bahamas this evening are guards Lynden “LJ” Rose Jr. who plays for the Salt Lake City Stars in the NBA G League; Michael Carey of Étoile Charleville-Mézières in Charleville-Mézières, France; and Jaron Cornish who last played with Stony Brook University; forward Dwight Coleby who last played with Western Kentucky University; and big men Zane Knowles of Étoile Charleville-Mézières and Shaquille Cleare of the Pully Lausanne Basketball Club in Pully, Switzerland.
Danrad “Chicken” Knowles experienced travel issues at the last moment and was unable to make the trip for today’s game.
The last time The Bahamas played the USVI, the team lost 93-85 at home at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium.
A win today is imperative as a loss would eliminate The Bahamas from the qualifiers.
The Bahamas will have one more light practice session this morning, before playing the USVI today.
Baha Mar is the title sponsor of Team Bahamas, and it is regarded as one of the best national basketball teams that the Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF) has ever assembled.