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The Bahamas out of Pan Am Games loop in basketball

Contrary to The Bahamas’ Senior Men’s National Basketball Head Coach Norris Bain’s claim earlier in the year, that The Bahamas had qualified for the 2019 Pan American Games, there will be no representation in that sport for the country, according to the official system of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).

It was a false alarm. It would take a miracle process of elimination, late disqualification of countries, for The Bahamas to get in, somehow. Indeed, such a likelihood is minimal at best.

Obviously confused about the qualification system, Bain and his Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF) associates jumped the gun and, I understand, communicated to the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) that the qualification standard had been attained. Upon hearing the qualification statement from Bain (actually carried in this forum), I sought to verify the information Bain provided and could not, no matter the source.

The BOC processes members of the Pan American Games delegations. BOC Secretary General Derron Donaldson was contacted and he confirmed that the BBF had supported the claim made by Bain. However, following further FIBA-related checks, Donaldson acknowledged that he had no qualification data to warrant BBF representative players being included in Team Bahamas for the major regional competition, July 27 to August 10 in Lima, Peru.

This is unfortunate and certainly not complimentary to a country that presently has the best depth, ever, in quality professional players. There will be four categories of basketball competitions in Lima. Other than the standard men’s and women’s tournaments, there will also be a 3-on-3 division for men and women.

The 11 outright qualifying countries are: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, the United States, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Uruguay.

The biggest disappointment is that there is the 3-on-3 category that The Bahamas seems excellently suited for, at this time. Breakout shooting guard with the Sacramento Kings Chavano “Buddy” Hield and Phoenix Suns rookie center DeAndre Ayton are able to represent The Bahamas. Picture those two with any other, on court for The Bahamas. Our 3-on-3 chances would be excellent.

As for the women, we lost Jonquel Jones as a national team member, but there still is Waltiea Rolle and a cadre of quality collegiate players. Indeed, all things considered, on paper, The Bahamas is poised to have its own breakthrough in regional and international basketball. There are obstacles though, especially the area of funding.

In the BBF, there probably needs to be a culture change, a mindset adjustment. Professional players who are based abroad have demands that are different from those of players living in the country. The professionals are accustomed to upscale treatment.

This situation is a dilemma for the BBF, but it’s best to face reality. The BBF executives, led by President Mario Bowleg and the coaching squad, must now go back to the drawing board.

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

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