Caribbean Tip-Off Classic back for second year

After a successful first year, the Caribbean Tip-Off Basketball Classic Showcase is back for a second year, as high school players from the United States of America (USA), Canada, Finland, Latin America and The Bahamas, will be showcasing their skills at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium from Friday, November 1, to Sunday November 3, 2019.

The announcement was made yesterday at a press conference held by the Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF) at the Super Club Breezes Resort.

“The Tip-Off Classic is an event that allows the federation to bring a lot of exposure to the local student-athletes here in The Bahamas. Having teams from the USA, Canada, Finland and The Bahamas, gives our kids the opportunity to obtain a scholarship to get to the next level to play basketball through the game of basketball,” Mario Bowleg, president of BBF said.

Twelve teams are in the showcase and fans will see six games per day from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m.

The twelve teams playing will be Orangeville Prep (Canada), International Sports Academy (USA), Ridley College Prep (Canada), Putnam Science Academy (USA), The Rise Center Academy (Canada), Hargraves Military Academy (USA), Northern Bahamas Select (Bahamas), Northfield Mt. Hermon (USA), NBA Basketball Academy (Latin America), Central and Southern Bahamas Select (Bahamas), Arizona Compass Prep (USA) and Helsinki Basketball Academy (Finland).

Putnam Science Academy won the 2018 National Prep Championships and is returning to the showcase for a second year.

Also joining them for a second year is Rise Center, Ridley College Prep and Helsinki Basketball Academy.

NBA scouts and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) scouts and coaches will be in attendance.

David Maron, one of the organizers of the showcase said, “The idea of the event is to give exposure to the Bahamian teams. We set up matchups that would be conducive to getting guys’ exposure and being seen by Division I programs. When we put this event together we thought of how we can bring in teams and top coaches and we want a combination of not just high Division 1 but low and mid-Division 1 teams to come down and recruit some of the Bahamian guys, if they choose to go play in the USA or prep school in Canada and then go on to play college ball or if they are ready to play college ball now.”

“Last year, we found out that a lot of the Canadian teams were very interested in bringing some of the Bahamian kids up to Canada to play. Basketball has gotten so big in Canada. I compare basketball in Toronto to Philly, New York and Boston as far as talent level. You saw that in the draft for the past few years with Andrew Wiggins and with Anthony Bennett being the number one pick,” Marron said.

There will also be an All-Star game on Saturday night from the all-tournament group.

Chris Demarco, newly-appointed head coach for the National Senior Men’s Basketball team, said that it is great that the local young players have the opportunity to play against the best high school players.

“I think it is great exposure for the kids. To be the best you have to play against the best. It is just a tremendous opportunity for these guys to play the best high school players in the world, really. It is not just the NCAA Division 1 coaches and NBA scouts, it is Division II coaches being able to see them as well. Some of these guys can go on and play at a scholarship school that is not Division I and still have an education to better themselves for the future. For anyone that is playing, it will be an opportunity for coaches, scouts and whoever to see them and maybe they would not have had that chance. I am excited about that. It helps us develop guys for the future of the National Team, to grow these guys and for them to play against really good competition,” Demarco said.

Last year, local high school teams played in the showcase. This year there will be two Select Teams that will feature local players.

“We are hoping some of the best players from The Bahamas will be playing on the two teams we have which are the select teams rather than last year when we had a format of high school teams. We feel that with the select teams, guys will be able to shine more when they are playing with a higher level,” Maron said.

The BBF, along with local coaches, will select the local players for the Select Teams based on pre-season tournaments.

The games will be streamed via and will give other schools who did not make the trip to The Bahamas, the opportunity to watch it remotely.

Steve Barnes, technical director for BBF, said that it is important that Flo Hoops is streaming the games as it will not go to the USA but also to the European market where they have a huge following. Flo Hoops also hosts Euro Cup and Euro games.

Barnes thanked Hedda Smith, sales manager at Breezes Resort, and title sponsor Super Club Breezes Resort, for stepping up and sponsoring the event and says that he is looking for a long-term relationship with the resort.

She noted, “We are excited to be a corporate sponsor for the upcoming Caribbean Tip-Off Classic. We have been working together for quite a while now. We are excited about the event and we are very happy to have the team come and stay with us in October.”

Bowleg is appealing for other corporate sponsors to come on board as this is an opportunity to see the best student-athletes from those countries.

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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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