It looks likely to be another solid year in local men’s basketball.
Three major competitions and an international tournament are three of the big events for 2009.
This month sees the start of the Under-16 Boys League. The league, which takes the spot of last year’s U15 league, is slated to run until March.
Assassins won the U15 league last year beating 345 Ballers 42-40 in overtime in the title game.
At that point the senior men’s league will get underway. The 2008 version began in late March and this year is slated to have the same starting time.
George Town Sports Club won their fourth straight title last year beating team Shaolin in the finals two games to one.
From there the Island Games will take place in Auland 29 June-7 July.
Thereafter the 2009 edition of the Boys U19 League will kick off in late September and run until mid-December.
The 2008 season was a solid one featuring plenty of publicity, stand-out players, tight standings and many balanced teams.
For National Coach Victor ‘Voot’ O’Garro the league produced many fresh, talented faces.
‘The league was simply awesome as the talent on display was enormous. I saw new talent emerge with the likes of Brandon Glasgow, Daryl Paddyfoot, Bruce Thompson and Michael Blackburn.
‘On the other hand the league was dominated by more experienced U19 players like Deandre Simpson, Josh Cotterell, Stephen Shaw and David Taylor.’
The presence of such star talent led many like O’Garro to feel the league title was up for grabs among the six teams.
‘No one knew who would win,’ O’Garro said. ‘Everyone thought Silver Bullets could win though Esso and Tarheels were threats.’
In the end, two of the more dominant teams squared off in the finals. Esso Blazers, led by Glasgow and Shaw, emerged the champions last year beating the Silver Bullets and league MVP Simpson 77-75 in the finals.
For O’Garro the title game between those sides was a momentous affair.
‘In the finals everybody thought Silver Bullets would win after building up such a large halftime lead. But Esso chipped away and put key players like Deandre in foul trouble and the tables started turning.
‘The game went into overtime with five Silver Bullets out with five fouls. In the overtime a sixth player fouled out and that made it easier for Esso to take the victory.
‘In the end the title was snatched out of the hands of Redver [Ebanks who coached the Silver Bullets] by Dion [Ebanks] and Shawn [Pitterson] [the coaches of the Esso Blazers].’
Yet one of the more remarkable squads in O’Garro’s eyes was West Bay club Future SC.
Future, led by star players Jarret Terry and Nicholas Roberts, just missed the playoffs at 2-8.
‘I was extremely impressed with Future,’ O’Garro said. ‘They didn’t have a recognizable U19 player, instead fielding home-grown West Bay talent. But head coach Colin Anglin nurtured the team and they fought everyone to the wire, losing the most close games where the margin of defeat was five points or less.’
Aside from the upcoming competitions O’Garro feels the next step for many U19 players is going off to university abroad.
‘The next thing for those youngsters is to help get them off to school as there are already five or six kids in their age group in college right now.’