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Men’s national team settles in Indianapolis

Most of The Bahamas’ 12-man roster for the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) AmeriCup Qualifiers 2021 have arrived in the tournament created ‘bubble’ in Indianapolis, Indiana, and have settled in as they prepare for competition. The Bahamas’ senior men’s national basketball team is sponsored by Baha Mar.

The Bahamas’ first game of the mini tournament will be against the host nation and defending AmeriCup Champions, the USA, on Sunday, November 29. They will play their second game against Puerto Rico on Monday, November 30.

Head Coach of the team, Chris DeMarco, and players Jaron Cornish and D’Shon Taylor are in the ‘bubble’ and caught up with the media about how preparations are coming along.

“FIBA and the USA as the host have done a great job so far. It has been difficult for us and some other countries to get players in from overseas. I do not know how Puerto Rico and Mexico are doing but I know that the majority of their teams are going to be from the states (US). That is going to be the hardest thing – being able to get our guys over here… Our federation is working hard to put together a team to compete,” DeMarco said.

DeMarco is an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors and will be making his debut at the helm for The Bahamas in competition.

The ratified team is comprised of Taylor, Cornish, Godfrey Rolle III, Ahmad Pratt, Nashad Mackey, Mychel Thompson, Willis Mackey Jr., Kentwan Smith, Eugene Bain, Tavario Miller, David Nesbitt and Robert Nortmann. The final roster can be altered; the federation awaits word from a few players who have restrictions in the areas they are located in.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions on traveling at various destinations, The Bahamas had to find a way to get players who are available while keeping the team competitive.

“We like our team,” DeMarco said. “Everyone who is here – the federation, me and other coaches, got together and talked about it. We have a group of guys who are going to be competitive and who are going to play hard. There is a lot to like about the guys who are here, and things can change day to day. We still do not know how it is going to look on Sunday and Monday, but so far the roster reflects what we are trying to do. The strength of the team will be the ability to move and shoot the ball. I think we have a roster that has some good shooters on it but I think it always starts defensively. We try to put together a team that can defend and compete on that end of the floor, and force some turnovers, and get out and push the basketball.”

DeMarco will be assisted by Perry Thomas Jr. and Moses Johnson. Eugena Patton is the team’s trainer and Elvardo Kemp is the team manager. With the COVID-19 pandemic still wreaking havoc, teams are required to have a team doctor. Dr. Sy Pierre is  Team Bahamas’ doctor.

Cornish said that the team’s focus before competition is to get to know each other.

“Our mindset right now is that everyone is staying together and getting to know each other, to go out there and do whatever we could to get a win. There is not much time to prepare so we have to use what we have and be ready,” Cornish said.

Taylor said the team’s mood is upbeat and they are looking to create team chemistry.

DeMarco, who has been around the team for almost three years, said that it has been a challenge to get all of the players together.

“It is always a challenge,” he said. “It has been almost three years now that I have been helping out here. We have yet to have that moment when we have all of our guys together. That is always the challenge in FIBA, but I do think that we are headed in the right direction. I know that in this window especially, guys are not familiar with each other; so that has been one of our things that we have been trying to since we got here – getting guys to hang out and getting to know each other and I think that translates to the basketball court.”

Taylor, who played in the first window against Mexico, was in The Bahamas during the pandemic period over the past eight months during the various curfews and lockdowns.

“I feel just as good as I did in the last window. I have been working real hard given the time that we had with all the quarantines we had back home. While we are down here, we are going to make sure we take some of that rust off and get ready for the competition coming up,” Taylor said. “I overloaded the workouts a lot. Given the time frame that I had to work with, I think I got maybe two solid weeks of work in. Other than that, I was working outside in my yard and dribbling round in my yard. I consider basketball like riding a bike. You never forget.”

Unlike the window in February in which The Bahamas played Mexico twice and was able to make adjustments, the team will play two different teams on back-to-back days in this window. DeMarco said that players like Taylor and Cornish who were in that first window can help the team by telling the others about the style of basketball they played and be leaders on the floor. He wants them to work together and build chemistry.

The Bahamas split their opening two games against Mexico back in the February window earlier this year. They lost their first game, 75-61, in Mexico, then traveled back home to The Bahamas a few days later and took down Mexico, 76-59.

The Bahamas is in second place in group play with three points. The Americans sit above them with four points. Mexico has three points as well, but loses the tiebreaker to The Bahamas, and Puerto Rico rounds out the group with two points.

The third window is slated to be held in February 2020, in The Bahamas, in which Team Bahamas will play home games against the USA and Puerto Rico. That window will also take place in a bubble format. In October, the federation released a statement mentioning that it is looking forward to support from the government of The Bahamas.

The 12-team AmeriCup Tournament is set to take place in September 2022. The top three teams in the four-team qualifying groups will advance to that tournament.

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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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