UK pros assist Cory’s mission

Basketball players in England will soon be here to help a worthy cause.

UK-based international basketball company Rising Ballers will be providing sponsorship for the 2012 edition of the Rodney Bodden Memorial three-on-three tournament. The organisation will be sending two semi-professional players to take part on 17-19 August.

Tournament organiser Cory Thompson, 33, spoke about how the group got involved.

“Rising Ballers decided to come on board after I approached them and explained the whole concept of the memorial,” Thompson said. “The owner, Emmanuel Davies, is a close friend of mine and he has also coached me for the past few seasons with the Chichester Thunders.

“He took a liking to Cayman after meeting the national team that came over for the Island Games. He organised a gym for us to train at before the games. The Rising Ballers are one of the biggest basketball uniform suppliers in the UK with the Rising Wear label. The company also specializes in coaching of all ages from primary school to national league.

“Emmanuel is coming and he is currently playing and coaching the Thunders. Before this, he was a player for the Portsmouth Smugglers, where he spent most of this career. He is also one of the few level three coaches in the UK and is also an England national team development coach.

“Then there is Bud Johnston, who currently plays for the Worthing Thunders. He started off playing pro for the Brighton Bears, when he was younger, but the team no longer exists because of falling into financial problems to play Dennis Rodman for one season. He also played pro in countries like Iceland and Germany but moved back to the UK a few years after to do his bachelors at the University of Chichester, where we became team-mates for the Thunders.”

Festivities for the tournament start with a wet fete and welcome party this Friday, 17 August. Automotive Art will be the venue from 9.30pm with admission costing $5 and there will be live performances from Stuart Wilson, Black Ken and J-Nez, who is in fact another local basketball player in Jasen Campbell.

From there comes the all-star game, with festivities like a slam dunk and three-point competition, on Saturday, 18 August. The Cayman Islands Basketball Association Court hosts the action from 7.30pm with $100 on offer for the best dunker and shooter. Admission is free and spectators can snag giveaways.

The tournament finale takes place on Sunday, 19 August, at Kings Sports Centre from 12noon. Admission is free and spectators can earn giveaways. Trophies and cash prizes are on offer for the top three male and female teams with first place earning $800 (men) and $500 (women), second taking $600 and $400 and third winning $400 and $300.

Thompson, a former Wolves basketball club star, arrived back in Cayman over the weekend. These days, he is based in the UK pursuing a semi-pro basketball career.

“I’m based in Portsmouth for the next month then I will be moving to London, where I have a wider range of teams to tryout for in a higher division. This has been the busiest year I have ever had in my years of playing basketball and it kind of took its toll, which led me into taking the season off and extending my off-season weight training to six months instead of three months.

“I feel wonderful now and will be looking forward to the next season which starts in September/October. I took this season off to recover, which played a big toll on me mentally and physically. It was very hard for me because I lost my dad, this happened at the end of my season right at the start of play-offs.

“At that time, I was playing for the Thunders and also playing in the Hampshire local league for the Portsmouth Fury so I could get some extra conditioning in and preparation for the Island Games and CBC games in the Bahamas. I also played in the Cayman league with the Wolves that year.”

Thompson has been putting on the tournament since 2008 to honour the memory of childhood friend Rodney Bodden, who died of heart failure in 1996 at age 16 while playing in a basketball competition in the Bahamas.

For more information, contact Cory Thompson on [email protected] or 928-4297

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