Five young Barbadian basketballers are about to get the opportunity of a lifetime.
Joshua Lowe (Harrison College), Zachary Moore (Alexandra), Jomon Philip (Combermere), Nick Hoyte (Combermere) and junior national player Makaari Jones were today chosen for a continuing training programme from among 40 other players between the ages of 14 and 16 at the first ever Digicel/NBA Grassroots Basketball Jumpstart Clinic. The five will now travel to Trinidad and Tobago later this month for an intensive five-day camp that will also include 25 select players from other regional territories.
Yesterday at a media briefing, Digicel’s chief executive officer Johnny Ingle had revealed that after the Trinidad and Tobago camp, the top players would get the opportunity to go to the United States where they would attend a National Basketball Association facility, meet and interact with some of the legends of the game as part of an initiative to develop their basketball.
During the three-day camp staged at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex, Wildey, the players had the benefit of being put through their paces by NBA coaches Chris Clunie and Becky Bonner.
Speaking with the media after the session today, Jones, a promising 14-year-old Queen’s College student and captain of the school’s junior team, said it was an opportunity for him to show off his skills and see another level of basketball within the Caribbean.
Giving his views about the clinic and looking ahead to Trinidad, Jones said: “One aspect was being a team leader and to make the players around me better and I still have to work on it. But that is one of the main things I learned. I expect to see some guys playing basketball at a high level so I will try to match them with their skills and be as good as them or even better.”
Speaking also at the conclusion of the clinic former national basketball captain Zahir Motara said he wanted to see the first ever joint Digicel/NBA camp staged in Barbados bear fruit. He told Barbados TODAY such an initiative could bring back interest into the sport but that the young and upcoming generation needed to show interest.
“It [Digicel/NBA initiative] can help with regaining interest, but still the ball is in their court and it is not just about the two days that they encountered here but it is about putting in the hard work to move forward,” Motara said.
Motara said the camp was an eye-opener for the children to see another level of basketball and was also a chance for them to improve their own game.
The National Sports Council coach said he thought the camp was well put together but would have liked the opportunity to use more of the indoor facility.
“It is similar to camps that I did overseas in terms of the structure with kids getting uniforms, refreshments and everything was there. It is just a matter of the children working hard and being seen by foreign coaches and getting the opportunity to go overseas for another camp.
“I think though if we had the usage of the indoor facility we could have pushed harder and you would have seen a lot more quality. But because of the wind blowing very strong [outdoors] it affected us a bit,” Motara explained, adding that not having the usage of the indoor facility especially at the Gymnasium was out of the control of the organizers of the clinic.
The first day of the clinic was dedicated to the NBA coaches interacting and passing on tips to local coaches before turning their attention to the youngsters over the next two days.