It’s a sad reality!
It’s quite sobering.
The U.S. Virgin Islands’ (USVI) national men’s basketball team is not in
a league with the Dominican Republic and Canada, but clearly is superior to The Bahamas. This was the primary fact that came out of the crucial second encounter Team Bahamas had with USVI in Puerto Rico on Thursday in the FIBA (International Basketball Federation World Cup) initial qualifying round.
With Buddy Hield aboard, Team Bahamas lost by 10 points 98-84, making this coming Monday’s Group D match against the Dominican Republic, insignificant. A third place finish would have sent Team Bahamas further on in the World Cup qualifying process, but it is a certainty that, absent DeAndre Ayton, Team Bahamas does not figure to be of the type of quality to take on teams like the
Dominican Republic and Canada, and countries with much better national squads.
Assistant Coach Norris Bain’s essential comment after the game on Monday was quite simple.
“We need another wing scorer.”
Reportedly, according to Head Coach Marion Bowleg, the dependency on Hield was too great.
His reported comments actually raised questions not only about the capacity of the other players that were relied upon against USVI, but the coaching as well.
“We became too stagnant on offense and began to rely too much on Buddy. The guys had opportunities to do things with the basketball that they could have done, and that would have taken some of the pressure off Buddy, but they just didn’t do it. We were trying to get the ball in Buddy’s hands too much when that was not the intent of our offense. We wanted to get the open man the ball and they were looking for Buddy too much. Lack of movement on offense allowed their defense to collapse on us and it was hard for us to recover from that,” Bowleg was quoted.
Well, that’s why timeouts are available. Once the over-reliance on Hield was evident, the coaches should have changed the scenario, if not with the players on court, then, by utilizing others off the bench. The offense and defense should be outlined by the coaching staff.
There are faults to be shared by all.
It’s back to the drawing board for the federation, not just about how the players perform, but equally regarding the coaching. Without a doubt, the federation is challenged to verify it can field teams capable of making meaningful representations at the regional and international levels.
It will be a tall order to ensure that Hield is available and to also be able to accommodate Ayton. Bowleg, the national coach and also BBF vice president, going forward, will be hard pressed to lead an initiative that gives Team Bahamas the best possible chance to not only beat the likes of USVI, but to seriously challenge the real world powers in basketball.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at [email protected] or on WhatsApp at 727-6363).