FIBA World Cup Skills Challenge tryouts called off


Senior Sports Reporter

THE Bahamas Basketball Federation far exceeded its total of participants for tryouts for the under-17 boys and girls Skills Challenge teams for next month’s International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Americas Region competition for qualification for the World Cup Skills Challenge.

But after the emergency orders announced by Prime Minnis Hubert Minnis on Friday to close all beaches and parks as well as to halt all sporting activities, the trials over the weekend had to be called off.

Head coach Marvin Henfield said the federation is still optimistic that they can get a clearance sometime today so that they can proceed with trials and have the Bahamas’ 10-member team each selected and presented to FIBA by the deadline of Saturday, August 1.

At the end of the registration period last week, the federation has collected a total of 116 athletes, including 89 males from New Providence and eight from Grand Bahama with 19 females from New Providence.

“We’re just pending and waiting on clarity from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and the Ministry of Health on whether or not we can proceed with the trials under these conditions that we are presently in,” Henfield said.

As for the number of participants registered, Henfield said he’s excited about the possibility of the Bahamas doing very well in the Challenge, should the teams compete.

“We have more than sufficient athletes to make the team when we cut them down to 10. I know we would have had a challenge with the players from Grand Bahama, as they would not be able to travel because of the borders now closed. I think they would have been disenfranchised by not being allowed to tryout here,” Henfield said. “But in terms of what we have in Nassau, I think we have sufficient players who can make the team once we can get them into the gym and see what they look like. It’s just a pity that the new emergency orders came out just before we could hold the tryouts.”

Henfield said his management team and coaching staff are eager to get the teams together. They include Sanchez Moss as assistant coach, Jabari Wilmott as executive manager, Maleah Henfield as executive manager assistant for the female team, Joette Fernander, executive manager assistant for the men’s team, Garvin Clarke, team manager, Francis Delva, players evaluation manager and LaTonda Brown and Davis Capron as the events managers.

FIBA was using the Skills Challenge, similar to what they do in the National Basketball Association (NBA) during their All-Star weekend, to help revive the interest of the sport in the new COVID-19 environment.

“I think this is the best thing that could have happened to the Bahamas right now,” Henfield said. “I know the players were eager to participate in something new like this, so we were confident that they would have done very well.

“I believe, that based on the way this event was designed and structured, that being a country with small, but quick fast athletes, I think we in the BBF felt we had a very good chance of winning this thing.”

Although they don’t have enough time to stage a tryout now that the weekend sessions from Saturday to Sunday have been closed off, Henfield said if they can get into the gym before this weekend, they can still make the deadline.

“The most unfortunate thing for us is to act without authority and someone is hauled before the courts,” Henfield said. “But I know that FIBA is quite aware of what’s happening globally with this pandemic and there are some mitigating factors that they have to take into consideration.

“Under normal conditions, there are some penalties that would be levied against a country if they broke their obligation to compete. I don’t see anything of such in the documents that I read. But these are abnormal circumstances, so I don’t think we would face any sanctions if we don’t compete.”

If they can get the approval from the relevant local authorities today, Henfield said the BBF can still hold their trials as early as Thursday or Friday the latest and they should be able to make their submission to FIBA.

Once the teams are cut, Henfield said they can begin preparing for the Americas tournament, scheduled for August 10-16. If successful, the teams will advance to the World Cup finals, set for August 17-23.