FIBA, the international basketball federation, sent out a press release on March 12, stating that all major FIBA competitions have been postponed to protect the health and safety of players, coaches, officials and fans.
The Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF), along with the local basketball fraternity, has taken a hit with this setback as was expected to be the time for Bahamian basketball players to showcase their talent to the rest of the region. They already took a step in that direction with a huge 76-59 victory over Mexico inside the Imperial Ballroom at Atlantis in February. However, all major qualifying basketball tournaments in the region have been pushed back due to the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The BBF is still preparing to send three national teams to FIBA competitions this summer, but they will now have to watch and wait as government and medical personnel deal with the coronavirus crisis.
One of those teams is the under-18 boys national basketball team. They are scheduled to travel in early June to take part in the FIBA Under-18 (U18) Tournament of the Americas Championships in Uruguay. That tournament is still on for June 7 to 13, but according to BBF President Mario Bowleg, that may also have to be pushed back.
“Right now, unless this thing (crisis) goes away between now and the end of April, the junior national team, which was scheduled to play in Uruguay in June, might not be able to play. Hopefully, a later date will not negatively impact a team like The Bahamas. If it is out the summer months, then our kids will be back to school, whether it’s high school in the states or locally,” Bowleg said.
The Bahamas will be up against basketball powerhouses like the United States, Canada, host nation Uruguay, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico at the Tournament of the Americas. Teams will be vying for four spots to play in the FIBA Under-19 (U19) World Cup to be played in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 2021.
Team Bahamas took down the Dominican Republic 85-83 to win the bronze medal at last year’s FIBA Under-17 (U17) Centrobasket Championships in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The other teams that are scheduled to travel are the senior women’s national team and the under-16 girls team. The dates and locations of their tournaments are still pending.
Bowleg has been in contact with FIBA and the Caribbean Basketball Confederation (CBC) for directives. He said that everything has been placed on hold and nothing has been postponed or canceled yet.
Additionally, with the pandemic growing, the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) has written the Ministry of Health for an advisory on national team travel and protocols during this time.
Bowleg said it is a tough time for not just basketball, but for sports globally.
“The whole thing is that the whole world is suffering because there is no entertainment through sports, not only basketball, but all sports. Sports is physically designed to entertain individuals and right now with this COVID-19, there is no sports being played and we are in the season of basketball. With basketball not being played around the world in many leagues, and locally, it takes away from the regular things in life that people use to balance their time,” Bowleg stated.
Bowleg urges Bahamians to take the pandemic seriously and hopes that it can be controlled in the not-too-distant future.