Caribbean Tip-off Classic comes to a close

The second edition of the Caribbean Tip-off High School Basketball Classic wrapped up on Sunday evening after kicking off its competitive weekend from Friday morning over at the Loyola Hall Gymnasium, Aquinas College, on Gladstone Road.

The showcase featured some top international teams and local select teams. The teams featured were Nassau Select (Nassau), Freeport Select (Grand Bahama), Orangeville Prep (Ontario, Canada), Ridley College Prep (Ontario, Canada), British Columbia Christian Academy (British Columbia, Canada), TRC Academy (Ontario, Canada), International Sports Academy (IBA) (Willoughby, Ohio, United States), Putnam Science Academy (Putnam, Connecticut, United States), Hargrave

Military Academy (Chatham, Virginia, United States), Northfield Mount Herman (Northfield, Massachusetts, United States), NBA Basketball Academy Latin America (Mexico City, Mexico) and Helsinki Basketball Academy (Helsinki, Finland).

Bahamian and BC Prep’s Joshua Dames was named to the all tournament team. He went to Tabernacle Baptist Academy in Freeport, Grand Bahama.

Fellow Bahamian Bradley Lightbourne also attends BC Prep. Lightbourne played for Gateway Christian Academy in Bimini. Along with them were Bahamians Kendrick Russell and D’Ante Dean. 

“We had another excellent showcase. We have a very good product. The teams that are coming over are now very international teams adding NBA Latin America to the lineup. We had the same quality number of games a year ago, maybe some more very good games,” Steve Barnes, the showcase organizer said. “We had some tough, tough games today (Sunday) so we are really excited at just the fact that we have this product to put out there, and it is of a high level.”

Sunday saw a close game between NBA Academy and IBA that went down to the wire. In the end, NBA Academy came away with a 77-73 victory. NBA Academy led 44-34 at the half before IBA came back and tied the game at 73-73 under a minute.

The most valuable player (MVP) of the showcase, NBA Academy’s Benedict Mathurin, finished that game with 20 points. He played for three quarters and sat out the final quarter.

IBA’s Anoy Barba had 20 points in the loss.

Walter Ruiz, technical director for the NBA Academy, said it was a great weekend for his team as they learnt a lot and made the necessary adjustments against high level teams. He said that he hopes his team gets to come back next year. Ruiz said he hopes to have a Bahamian player in the academy in the future.

Barnes said more teams will be interested but he wants to keep the quality of play at a high level and the number of teams to 12.

For Barnes, the local select teams did very well and he knows that the players have a chance at getting scholarships or even to go on to play for one of the prep schools that visited.

“We are talking about doing some things as far as practices differently further out like a month out and really evaluating our top players in the country, and making sure the right kids are on the team,” Barnes said.

He continued; “What we want to do is continue to make that a real positive for The Bahamas. These kids are going to get scholarships out of this whether it’s Division I or some of the prep teams that are here will take these guys. We are still doing what we need to do for the exposure.”

A new element that the showcase added was the presence of Flo Sports that streamed every game live throughout Europe, Canada and the United States. They were one of the sponsors of the showcase.

The showcase originally was scheduled to be played at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium, but due to it being used as a shelter for Hurricane Dorian victims, Barnes said the Loyola Hall Gymnasium was a great alternative and the coaches loved it.

The Nassau Select team finished with one win and two losses. The Freeport Select team finished winless in three tries.

Last year’s showcase saw several players in the showcase move on to National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I schools including Bahamian top junior players in Kai Jones who went to the Texas Longhorns and Samuel “Sammy” Hunter headed to the Ole Miss Rebels.

In addition to Jones and Hunter, Jones’ teammate at Brewster Academy Jalen Lecque is an NBA undrafted rookie for the Phoenix Suns. He has been sent to the G-League to play for the Northern Arizona Suns. He scored 21 points for the Suns in the final preseason game in the G-league on Saturday night in a 106-101 win against the South Bay Lakers.

The title sponsor of the showcase was the Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF). Another sponsor of the showcase was Breezes Resort. It was the hotel of the showcase.

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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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