Time for men to shine

Women’s basketball has received much of the spotlight recently. Now it is the men’s turn.

Tomorrow sees the opening ceremony of the 2009 Cayman Islands Basketball Association men’s national league.

The ceremony is slated to be held at the CIBA Court off Eastern Avenue at 6pm with a game going off afterwards.

The upcoming league is slated to consist of two divisions and some 10 teams.

Division one is set to feature eight teams. They are Silver Bullets, Team Philippines, Colombia, Shaolin, George Town Sports Club, Wendy’s Tarheels, Esso Blazers and the DHL Wolves.

Division two will see six teams. They are the Digicel Demons, Rockhole Fyah Ants, Esso Blazers, Heat, Future Sports Club and team Ritz-Carlton Jesters.

Among the most notable teams is defending division one champion George Town Sports Club. GT, who have won the men’s league for the last four years, will bring back essentially the same team.

Among the team members are Eckerd McField, Jonathon Mitchell and Jason Campbell.

One of the teams that figures to be on their heels is Shaolin. The side made it to the finals last year and lost in three games to GT.

Among the players who were part of the team was star guard and Captain Collin Anglin.

Anglin, who is returning with the team this year, feels the improvement of the junior players should impact the men’s game.

‘The men’s league should be very intense this year. A lot of the junior players, especially the Under-19 boys, have been dispersed around to the various teams. That makes all the squads even tougher now because in many cases they added key pieces.

‘I feel pretty good about the team this year because we made some good additions.’

Among the more notable acquisitions were Filipino star Christian Ferrer, athletic wingman Kenvall Bryan and big man Omari Corbin.

At press time it was stated the team was close to signing another player in Chad Leslie. Leslie was the star center for the now-defunct Lakers team last season and has great size.

The moves come as Shaolin braces to go much of the season without their stand-out forward Jerome Narcissee who is currently away at university in the US.

He will be eligible to play when he returns to Cayman during the summer break in May.

In fact, this year’s league saw loads of player movement as, essentially, teams gear up to take down the GT dynasty.

Silver Bullets have five new players. Three of them are CIBA U19 Boys League star players in Deandre Simpson, Kwei General and Josh Cotterell. The other two are in fact Shaolin defectors in Adam Milburn and Collin Bodden.

Esso Blazers now have Shaad and Sammy O’Garro to accompany their star trio of big man Rotando Thompson, Kevin Maxwell and Perry Levy.

GT was not left behind as they made some notable changes. The team added assists specialists Kael Leslie (last year’s assists champion) and U19 Boys League star assists man David Taylor.

In addition Jorge Ebanks, Ariel Whittaker, Phillip Barnes and Lloyd Samuels are expected to join the fold when they return from school for the summer in May.

Perennial contender Wendy Tarheels lost big man Dwight O’Garro (who signed with the Wolves) and another inside presence. However they countered with signing of three U19 players, the biggest name being West Bay star Jonathon Powery.

Aside from adding Dwight O’Garro, the DHL Wolves stayed mostly intact featuring Andres Kirchman and Jonathon Manderson.

At press time it was understood that team Philippines and Colombia did not make any moves. Team Philippines consist of the best players from the Filipino Basketball League while Colombia has the same players that won division two last year.

In Anglin’s mind Shaolin’s moves should help with some of last year’s issues.

‘Our weaknesses last year were rebounding and general toughness inside. Adding a guy like Corbin certainly helps us out on both accounts while Ferrer and Bryan are athletic enough to crash the boards as well.

‘Our main mission is to dethrone GT this year. Everyone wants to take them off their pedestal though we’ll have to bring our A game to do it.

‘In any case there should be a lot of good basketball action this season.’

League games are set to be played throughout the week. Division one plays on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Division two plays two matches on Monday evenings and one game on Wednesdays.

The U15 Boys and Girls Leagues, which begin next Saturday 28 March, are set to play on Saturdays.

CIBA Technical Director Victor ‘Voot’ O’Garro felt this coming league should be heavily contested.

‘This competition should be the best season of local basketball. Most if not all of the teams are properly balanced. Predicting a winner is a tough task but I’m expecting a bumper league this year.’

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