Cuba and the Bahamas Advance in FIBA Qualifier
The National Basketball Team will not advance to the FIBA World Cup Games to be held in 2021. Former NBA player Milton Palacio was brought in to coach the national team two weeks before the matches. Unfortunately, Belize did not make the cut. The national team thrashed Antigua and Barbuda and in a nail-biting game, it came within two points of destroying Cuba. On Sunday the Bahamian team beat Belize by fourteen points. The games were played at the Belize Civic Centre to huge crowds, but the team failed to advance. Duane Moody looks at the final game on Sunday.
Duane Moody, Reporting
…and with that eighty-six to seventy-two in favour of the Bahamian national team, Cuba and the Bahamas advanced to the world championship round for FIBA set for 2021. These national teams along with two others from Belize and Antigua went head to head in a qualifying round of world basketball competition inside the Belize City Civic Centre between Friday and Sunday. Team Belize, coached by Milton Palacio won its first matchup, beating Antigua’s national team by twenty-five points. On Saturday they would lose to Cuba by a razor-thin two points and in a determining match against the Bahamian team, the Belize national team lost by fourteen – taking them out of the competition.
Milton Palacio, Coach, Belize National Team
“This is tough. I thought we didn’t execute well. I think we had the game plan the first two games and I thought tonight we didn’t execute it like we should have. And I thought our body language was really bad tonight.”
“How much of a factor was fatigue? Three games in three nights; tough games.”
“Yeah it’s tough. It is always like that. There are veteran ball squad so they came together and they brought each other in together. Us, being a young team, we’ll learn from this and we’ll get better; we have a bright future.”
Following the win, the coach of the Bahamian national team spoke of the strategy going into the game against team Belize.
Norris Bain, Coach, Bahamian National Team
“In the first half, we said how we wanted to play. We needed to not let them offensive rebound the ball; we needed number eight to get to his left hand because he is not as effective to his left hand as he is to his right. First half we didn’t do that and then on the offense, we didn’t share the ball. We were not selfish, but just played nervous and panicky. Second half, we did a better job of forcing the guy to go left and I think we gave about three offensive rebounds or four instead of twelve. Once we did that, that takes away the second looks, the threes get kicked out and then we did a better job on offense.”
While the Bahamian team was more athletic and determined, many were of the view that an injury sustained by shooting guard Devin Daly in the third quarter of the third game gave Belize a disadvantage because the slim gap between the numbers widened and the national team didn’t catch back up to the Bahamians.
Devin Daly, Shooting Guard, Belize National Team
“I feel terrible mien that I neva deh deh fi help the team. I let mi team down, I let mi country down. Dah mi wah accident and I just feel bad about it right now.”
“How’s the ankle right now?”
“Just can’t really put weight on it. I don’t know mien, it is just unfortunate. This is like last year July, I get juke ina mi eye and now this you know, it neva gone wi way.”
“You wanted to redeem yourself because of that awful shooting performance in the last Central American Championship. And you were playing well in this game, so when you twisted your ankle…”
“I don’t know mien, I lost for words right now because bigger than me di have wah good game, I mi just feel the team mi di build wah lee momentum, had the game tied at half time. It just a freak accident.”
Belize’s Coach also shared his thoughts on the statistics from the game on the national team.
“It’s unbelievable that we talk about free throws every day and today I
made sure I let them know that free throws are a huge part of the game. And we just gotta go out there and concentrate and let them down and we didn’t do that.”
“Unfortunately this is a team that has had a number of second half heartbreaks in critical games as in the last tournament; we were tied at the half and then we went way down in the second half. What really is it? I know shooting was way off; I haven’t seen the three-point percentage but it has to be below twenty percent or thereabouts.”
“It was at twenty-five, but I just feel like when you have a young group, you have to have somebody step up beside myself to kind of calm them down or to kinda bring them together and I think that’s one thing that we lack. When we got down a little bit on ourselves, we have to have somebody to pull the guys together and say we are okay. I just think the biggest thing is we gotta keep playing all year round. And as bad as we don’t want to say it, we gotta be in shape. Guys gotta keep themselves healthy in shape wise. You look at their physicality and our physicality, it is not even matchable and I think that’s the elephant in the room. If you are not in shape, you can’t play this game. You can get away with it in the NEBL, but not internationally.”