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Head Coach Bain emphasizes berth in Pan Am Games

Team Bahamas Head Coach Norris Bain is elated.

His communication following the step forward Bahamian basketball made, in defeating host team Belize 86-72 Sunday night for the silver medal in Group A of the 2021 FIBA AmeriCup Pre-Qualifiers, indicated as much.

He is understandably satisfied about presently being a part of one of the most significant runs national basketball teams have had in decades.

“We are now off to the Pan Am Games in July. We qualified for the FIBA AmeriCup home and away series which begins in November. We now await the draw,” Head Coach Bain informed.

Derron Donaldson, the Bahamas Olympic Committee’s (BOC) secretary general, said the accomplishment was “awesome”.

Donaldson said: “I made contact with Mario Bowleg (a national team assistant coach and Bahamas Basketball Federation vice president) and yes, we now have to prepare to accommodate men’s basketball as part of our delegation to the Pan Am Games.”

Thus, The Bahamas will be in the mix of medal potentials later this year, July 26 to August 11, at the Lima 2019 Pan Am Games. The first Pan American Games took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1951.

The Bahamas has never captured a Pan Am Games medal in basketball.

This could be the year, in Lima, Peru.

The nation’s two best male players, Chavano “Buddy” Hield (Sacramento Kings) and DeAndre Ayton (Phoenix Suns) are winding down the 2018-2019 National Basketball Association (NBA) season and were not available for the pre-qualifiers in Belize City, Belize. The time frame of July 26 to August 11, and a few weeks earlier for training camp, would be outside of any known commitment to the NBA, so it is possible that they could be on board for Team Bahamas in Lima.

The prospect of such a development is delightful.

The scenario, for me, brings back the memory of a lost opportunity in 1975 at the Pan American Games in Mexico City. That year, there was an extremely fine nucleus of talent The Bahamas was able to lay claim to. Unfortunately, Mychal “Sweet Bells” Thompson and Osborne “Goose” Lockhart could not get away from their schedule at the University of Minnesota.

With Thompson at pivot, with Sterling Quant available for the power forward position and to sub if necessary at center; and Lockhart inserted at the point guard with his teammate from Miami Jackson High, Cecil Rose, as shooting guard; The Bahamas would have had one of the noted talent-rich squads. In fact, with Charles Thompson on the front line with Mychal and Sterling, it would have been the historic Miami Jackson four plus one (Sterling) in the starting line-up for The Bahamas.

This time around, if Bain, Bowleg and company could network with the agents of Hield and Ayton, as well as corporate entities, The Bahamas could have its best shot at Pan Am success since that lost chance, 44 years ago.

Bain is excited at the possibility, for sure.

“This is huge. It keeps our hope alive for the Tokyo Olympics (2020). If we can get our NBA players, with a couple of other guys playing overseas, we will be fine. This (performance in Belize) shows the deep pool of talent in our country. To be able to go into a hostile environment and keep your composure and win speaks volume about these guys,” said a highly impressed Bain.

Indeed, national basketball in this country is poised for much greater accomplishments!

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at e-mail address or on WhatsApp at (242) 727-6363.

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