Sports

Mackey back home in The Bahamas

After about two months of trying to get home, Bahamian professional basketball player Willis Mackey Jr. is finally back in The Bahamas after having a rewarding partial season in Spain.

Mackey’s journey back home began last week Wednesday when he took a train to Madrid from Salamanca, in Spain. After that train ride, he caught a flight to London, England, and after staying a night in a hotel paid for by the government of The Bahamas, he was on to the Turks and Caicos Islands and then back to Nassau, The Bahamas, where he was reunited with family members last Thursday. He said he is extremely grateful for the assistance he got from the government of The Bahamas.

“It’s great to be back home with family and friends in the comfort of my own country. I love Spain and just about everything about it, but there’s no place like home,” said Mackey. “Now, I can focus solely on my summer plans, and preparing my body for the upcoming season without the strict lockdown procedures that are in place back in Spain. I can now look forward to strengthening my body for my second pro season.”

The 23-year-old hails from the island of Grand Bahama. As soon as his quarantine period is over, he said he will be taking a trip along with his sisters to his parents on Grand Bahama. After spending some time there, he will head back to Nassau to work out.

Mackey was one of 47 citizens and residents of The Bahamas who returned home last week Thursday on a chartered flight provided by the Bahamian government. Throughout his attempts to get back home, Mackey said that The Bahamas’ high commissioner to the United Kingdom, former Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade, was very helpful to him.

“I was in contact with His Excellency Ellison Greenslade for about two months,” Mackey said. “All of the communications we had were very informative and timely. I was not directed to an assistant or just pushed to the side, and I appreciate that. I was speaking directly with the man in charge. He was very professional and availed himself to help me through the entire process. Without his assistance and the hard work of the other individuals who made this all possible, I don’t think I would have made it back home as soon as I did,” Mackey said.

Once he arrived in The Bahamas, Mackey said he had to sign up for an application that helped the government monitor him and contact him. He has been placed on a 14-day quarantine at home and he said that he is being compliant.

Mackey plays for Aquimisa Carbajosa out of Salamanca, Spain, in the Liga Española de Baloncesto Aficionado (EBA), which is the fourth division of basketball in that country. He hit a little speed bump in leaving Spain that proved to be the most difficult part of his way back home.

“The most difficult part was getting my agent and club in Spain on the same page with booking and confirming my plans. I ran into some obstacles because my club had just been promoted to the next level of Spanish Basketball, so they were somewhat preoccupied. I was relentless with trying to get in contact with them and getting all of the tickets confirmed to secure my place on the repatriation flight. In the end, it all worked out,” Mackey said.

Mackey was a key player for Aquimisa Carbajosa this past season before play was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic that brought the world almost to a standstill. He appeared in 18 games this season, averaging 16.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game to lead his team in both categories. Defensively, he averaged 1.2 blocks and 1.1 steals per game.

To reward him for those efforts this season, Mackey was named the league’s player of the year by EuroBasket. The Grand Bahamian was also named as the EBA Forward of the Year, the Import Player of the Year and was named to the All-Spanish EBA First-Team.

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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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