Turkey with all the trimmings

It is a long way to Turkey in
Europe and travelling there is an expensive proposition, but thanks to their
involvement in local basketball three locals will make the trip for free.

Youth players La-Torae Nixon and
Travis Manzanares will join coach Shawn Pitterson in a trip to Istanbul next
week. There the trio will take part in the Children of the World 2010
basketball camp 25-30 August. They are slated to leave Cayman on Tuesday and
return the following Tuesday 31 August.

Nixon, 13, has been in local hoops
the last three years and was the star of the last Appleby U19 league.
Manzanares, 14, has been in the sport two years and played in the
PricewaterhouseCoopers U16 league. Pitterson has coached at all levels of local
basketball and recently finished coaching the Esso Blazers adult basketball
team in Cayman’s national men’s basketball league.

The camp is being put on by the
Turkish Basketball Federation in conjunction with the International Basketball
Federation (French: Federation Internationale de Basketball), commonly known as
FIBA. The Turkish group is covering all accommodations, domestic and
international flight expenses. A local high school will host the trio.

The camp coincides with the 2010
World Basketball Championships taking place in the country. Some 24
international teams such as the US, Argentina and Spain will take part in the
competition which runs from Saturday 28 August to Sunday 12 September.

Interestingly the trio will get to
witness the opening ceremony for the competition and three-four matches
(including at least one featuring the US and stars like Rajon Rondo).

Estimates for travel expenses from
Cayman to Turkey indicate that the Turkish federation will be putting out as
much as US$5,000 for each person, with flight tickets costing roughly US$1,970.

Technical Director for Cayman
basketball Victor ‘Voot’ O’Garro explained how it all came about.  “The Turkish federation invited two Under-16
youth players and a youth coach from all of the FIBA member countries to attend
a camp and coaching seminar in Turkey. Cayman is a member of FIBA and thus we
were contacted to provide names of suitable attendees. In all 80-100 countries
have been invited and the camp will see coaching done in different languages.

“It is once-in-a-lifetime
experience to be able to send Cayman players to Turkey. This is one of the best
gifts I’ve ever seen for the development of athletes and children in general. I
was in Japan in 2006 for the last tournament and I can tell you those guys are
going to something very huge.”

In spite of their collective
basketball experience O’Garro stated the decisive factor in choosing the trio
was decorum. “It’s not about good players. In fact the federation stated the
players nominated did not have to possess great basketball skills. This trip
was about getting young players who can represent their countries with good conduct.
For example Travis comes to practice regularly, is a very disciplined young man
and is always helpful. Yet he is not one of the better players in the youth
ranks. La-Torae on the other hand meets all the criteria and happens to be a
star
player.”

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Nixon is already a star at 13.
Photo: Matthew Yates
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