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Gibbons and Ifill: Legacies of Excellence

by Barbados Today
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Few duos in Barbadian basketball have made as significant an impact as shooting guard Rahiim Gibbons and point guard Andrew Ifill.

Playing for the Burger King Clapham Bulls, they have forged a legacy of excellence, culminating in the triumphant 2024 Co-operators General Insurance Barbados Amateur Basketball Association (BABA) league title. Their journey from promising youth players to seasoned veterans speaks volumes of their dedication, skill, and unyielding passion for the game.

The Steady Hand and Sharpshooter

At 33 years old, Rahiim Gibbons stands as the epitome of leadership and skill. Known for his smooth midrange jumper, his journey began at the tender age of 11 when he decided to prioritise basketball over football. His parents, both basketball players, influenced his early exploration into the sport, and his father’s coaching played a crucial role in his development.

In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Gibbons reflected on his early days.

“My dad had a huge influence on my basketball – from the many VHS tapes he had of NBA games and the games I was able to watch him play,” he said.

Gibbons’ competitive nature and his love for the game have kept him motivated through the years.

“Staying motivated was not hard for me because I love the game but I’m also very competitive,” he shared. “So, there were many days growing up, when I got up early in the morning or late evenings and went to the court to practise alone just to keep myself sharp.”
That drive saw him rise through the ranks, making the national team and ultimately leading the Clapham Bulls to multiple championships.

Despite battling a knee injury throughout the 2024 season, Gibbons’ leadership never wavered. His commitment to the team and his ability to perform under pressure were instrumental in their championship run. The young talent averaged 14.2 points per game during the regular season along with 3.7 assists and 3.3 steals per game.

“This season was tough because the schedule was very condensed and it was harder for me personally, because I have actually been dealing with a knee injury for the entire season,” he noted.

Yet, his perseverance paid off, and his role as captain was pivotal in the Bulls’ success.

Off the court, Gibbons has another life but just as much responsibility.

“At this point in my life, my son is the most important thing to me. He plays football competitively now so just watching him develop is one of my favourite things to do. Outside of that, I love watching NBA basketball, and football, listening to music, reading, and playing video games with friends,” he said.

Ifill: The Ultimate Defender

Andrew Ifill, a solidly built 26-year-old, is the defensive anchor of the Clapham Bulls and the embodiment of energy on the court. His journey began at the Garrison Secondary School (now Graydon Sealy Secondary), where he first tried out for the Under-19 basketball team. He quickly found his footing in the sport.

“My father’s involvement in basketball influenced my passion for the game. He introduced me to different basketball strategies both on and off the court which helped to shape the way I play to this day,” he said.

Known for his relentless defence and energetic play, Ifill has become one of the premier defenders on the island and many players shake their heads when they look up to see Ifill as their defender. He finished with figures of 7.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 2.3 steals per game for this regular season.

Ifill’s advice to young players reflects his own disciplined approach to the game: “Stick to the fundamentals and learn how to take constructive criticism and apply it to the game.”

“When I was younger, I used to be offended sometimes when the old heads would constantly say the same things to me after each game, but I’ve now grown to understand that they were just trying to help me to better my craft,” he said.

This philosophy and mindset have guided Ifill through his career, helping him overcome injuries and other challenges to achieve success.

His role in the Bulls’ championship win cannot be overstated. His defensive prowess and ability to energise and motivate the team were crucial in their tight games.

“It was a very rocky season at times dealing with past and new injuries, shortness of players and such. It was quite challenging but we came out on top,” he said, reflecting on the trials and triumphs of the season.

“I would like to thank my parents for the constant support, Ingrid Mayers for the off-court training, Rahiim, Kodi, Kelan and Simeon for having faith in me, and my teammates for putting in the effort to make us the champions.”

Giving some insight into his life outside of basketball, Ifill highlighted his love for travelling and seeing new places as well as visiting the beach and chilling with friends.

Backcourt Brothers: Cementing their Legacy

Together, Gibbons and Ifill form one of the most formidable backcourt pairs on the competitive basketball courts of Barbados. Their synergy on the court and mutual respect off of it have been a key factor to their success. Gibbons always speaks highly of Ifill.

“It’s always been great playing with Andrew because I know he will always bring the energy; a fearless competitor and arguably the best perimeter defender in the league,” he said of his teammate.

Their partnership extends beyond their basketball careers. Both players have deep roots in Clapham, and their fathers both have a history in the sport. The community of Clapham is renowned for producing some of the best players throughout the years and both players thanked the fans for their never-ending support.

“It really feels good that we both have such a deep history in Clapham from our fathers and we are able to carry on that legacy in some way,” Gibbons remarked.

As part of the 2024 championship team, Gibbons and Ifill have cemented their place in the history of the Clapham Bulls and local basketball. Their story is one of perseverance, passion, and an unbreakable brotherly bond forged through years of shared struggles and achievements. They stand as role models for young athletes, exemplifying what it means to be true champions, on and off the court.

André Springer

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