Voot blessed with less

Cayman’s top basketball mind believes the men’s league is just fine with less squads.

Technical Director for Cayman basketball Victor ‘Voot’ O’Garro sees no problems with only nine teams in the national men’s league. Organized by the Cayman Islands Basketball Association, the competition usually sees 12 sides in division one and two.

“A blessing happened in disguise,” O’Garro said. “Most of the players not in division one are in division two. Players are still getting on teams, they can all add more players and division two will definitely step up.

“In past years, division one had seven or eight teams. People registered late and owed registration fees. This year only five teams met the deadline. Hopefully in the future, teams will register on time and in full. In the past we gave them a week or two. We need to pay indoor fees now with UCCI at $50 and Camana Bay $75 an hour and next year, hopefully, the teams will register on time.”

Thus far, all league games have taken place exclusively at the Sir Vassel Johnson Hall of the University College of the Cayman Islands. This month, the association plans to switch division one contests to the Arts and Recreation Centre at Camana Bay. Most players prefer the Camana Bay locale due to the surfacing of its court.

Regardless of the venue, play has been tight and entertaining as usual. The Esso Blazers are the big surprise, with an unbeaten start atop the top flight behind talents like Jasen Campbell and Deandre Simpson. Wolves, with perennial stars Gary ‘Butcher’ McLaughlin and Dwight O’Garro along with reigning champions the Dominos Warriors, who feature Collin Anglin and Luigi Moxam, are not too far off the pace. Curtis Wilson’s Shining Stars Childhood Care and Education Centre and Christian Ferrer’s Moneygram Philippines have stumbled out of the gate.

Chris LeBeau and defending champs team Charterland are setting the pace atop division two. Dominic Martucci and the Butterfield Shockwaves are in second. Maxwell Linwood’s Rock Hole Fire Ants and Kadane Hall’s Titans are playing catch-up.

O’Garro expects the storylines to intensify as new players excel.

“What I see in Esso and what Shining Stars are doing, I want to see what Collin Anglin and company will do. All of the teams feature national team players so its a duel and they’re going for bragging rights. There’s also about 12 young ones in high school who are adding to the strengths of the league.

“There are a lot of unknowns. I’m seeing players I’ve never coached. We’re seeing more foreign and expat players and that’s a great incentive for the enhancement of the league. By next month both divisions will be strengthened and next year there should be more teams. Because of less teams and the season being shorter, most college players will not be back in time for this season. There is a law that a player must play a game in the regular season before the playoffs start.

“While Deandre Simpson is home now, the other players are in their third or fourth year of school. They’re all coming home after and I see a big rise in the league again in the next year or two. For example with Shaad and Sammy O’Garro (Voot’s sons), if they cannot advance their basketball careers they will be home working and playing.”