Sports

Ayton sitting out against Venezuela

Phoenix Suns’ center not available; reason not given

What a difference a day makes!

Just one day after the Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF) announced that all three Bahamian-born National Basketball Association (NBA) players will be on the roster for the upcoming FIBA (International Basketball Federation) Americas World Cup Qualifiers second round competition, news broke late Monday night that the Phoenix Suns’ star center DeAndre Ayton won’t be available.

The news dropped that The Bahamas’ senior men’s national team will only feature the Indiana Pacers’ guard Chavano ‘Buddy’ Hield and Charlotte Hornets forward Kai Jones in the second round competition and not Ayton as previously reported. The post stated that Ayton’s representative confirmed his unavailability.

Jones and Ayton down low were expected to be great threats for The Bahamas. They have never teamed up before, and Hield would have gotten some much needed relief on the offensive side.

Guardian Sports caught up with BBF President Eugene Horton who confirmed Ayton’s unavailability for this window.

“He won’t be playing,” Horton simply said.

When asked to elaborate more, Horton did not answer or return calls that Guardian Sports made to him.

This was going to be the first time that all three Bahamian NBA players see action on the court for The Bahamas at the same time. Local sports enthusiasts were excited to hear the initial news that all three would be playing, and playing at home, made the occasion extra special.

The Bahamas will open the second round of the FIBA Americas World Cup Qualifiers with a home game against Venezuela at the Kendal G.L Isaacs National Gymnasium. That game will take place on Thursday, August 25 at 8 p.m.

Also in the same group as The Bahamas and Venezuela are Canada, Argentina, the Dominican Republic and Panama. It is not an easy path for The Bahamas as the team attempts to advance to the 2023 FIBA World Cup, which is set for August 25 to September 10, 2023 in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia.

Four days after playing Venezuela, Team Bahamas will fly down to Mar del Plata, Argentina, to play Argentina. That game will be played at the Polideportivo Islas Malvinas in Mar del Plata, starting at 8:40 p.m.

The fifth window of the second round of the qualifiers is set for November and the sixth window is set for February 2023. Those two windows will be held during the NBA regular season and will not feature any of the three players. So, The Bahamas have to make the most out of the fourth window this month.

In the clinching game to advance to the second round, The Bahamas took down the U.S. Virgin Islands, 97-80, thanks to a game-high 24 points by Hield.

In the final game of the first round of the qualifiers, The Bahamas fell to the Dominican Republic, 88-80, in a competitive game at the Baha Mar Convention Center in Nassau, The Bahamas, on July 4. Hield once again led all scorers as he finished with 29 points.

The Bahamas finished with a 2-4 win/loss record in Group C of the first round of the qualifiers, third behind Canada (6-0) and the Dominican Republic (4-2). Playing in the second round is as high as Bahamian basketball has ever been on the senior side, and a major accomplishment for team sports in The Bahamas.

The roster for this upcoming window will be named on Monday. Of course, nothing is concrete until the official roster is submitted to FIBA so there is still a possibility that the big man will play after all.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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