The Bahamas Basketball Federation’s (BBF) Summer of Thunder basketball showcase is cancelled for 2020 due to the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nassau Guardian Sports caught up with BBF President Mario Bowleg who confirmed that college teams were unable to come for the annual showcase, that was expected to highlight weeks of high-level basketball intensity this year because of the pandemic.
“We have reached out to all of our agents who normally bring teams here to participate in the Summer of Thunder. Due to COVID-19, all of them would have cancelled. I think that is because of the incompletion of the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) season and not knowing what is going to happen with NCAA football which I think is the greatest income for most of those sporting programs. That caused most of those teams to take the necessary precautions on their financial spending. Unfortunately, Summer of Thunder is one of those ventures that they would have entered during the month of August that they had to cancel,” Bowleg said.
The showcase is mainly held in August and has been played at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs
National Gymnasium, the Baha Mar Resort and the Atlantis Resort in recent years. College teams, national squads, and European professional clubs come to The Bahamas to fine-tune their play for upcoming competitions. Local basketball teams also get a chance to play against the visiting teams.
“It was very disappointing. I heard from (Jaraun) ‘Kino’ Burrows who is with Raw Talent and was getting ready to come home. He had some young guys – up-and-coming young Bahamian athletes who were getting ready to go to France. They were looking forward to using those games and record them so they can showcase their talent to take them to the next level. This pandemic is something that is beyond our control and we just have to face the consequences and try to make the necessary adjustments in order for us to move forward and start preparing for next year. It is definitely disappointing to the players and coaches and the executives of the federation,” Bowleg said.
Several NCAA Division I teams were looking to make the trip. These included the Eastern Michigan University, Appalachian State University, Wake Forest University and Seattle University. A women’s team from the University of Tennessee at Martin was also scheduled to make an appearance.
A few NCAA Division I teams came for the showcase last year, including Georgetown University, Texas Tech, the University of Memphis, Temple University, Murray Sate University, Duquesne University and Furman University. Also making the trip last year was Mega Bemax, a professional team out of Serbia. York University women’s team came to play against a Bahamas Select All-Star women’s team.
Bowleg said the Summer of Thunder showcase is a huge fundraiser for the federation.
“The federation will have a great loss as far as fundraising because that is our major fundraising. It normally helps to take care of our development programs and our national teams. The cancellation will definitely impact the federation financially,” Bowleg said. “This is a great setback for us in trying to ensure that we have our necessary funding to send our men’s national team off to competition, which will be confirmed by August 31, whether or not we are going to be playing that window in November where we’re supposed to play in Washington and Puerto Rico for the FIBA AmeriCup Qualifiers. Those trips cost us about $80,000 per trip. Taking that into consideration we are going to find ourselves in a financial bind if those games are played in November.”
Several players who have played in the Summer of Thunder have made the jump to the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the United States. Back in 2014, Bahamian DeAndre Ayton was a force to reckon with as his locally-based Providence Storm team shocked the formidable University of North Carolina (UNC) Tar Heels, 84-83. He finished that game with 17 points and 18 rebounds as a teenager still in high school.
The annual showcase has seen some quality teams and players on the court and this year’s edition will be greatly missed by local basketball fans as well as the fans who travel to The Bahamas to see their teams play.