Victor “Voot” O’Garro feels fewer teams does not necessarily mean less excitement.
Only four clubs are taking part in division one of the Cayman Islands Basketball Association 2013 National Men’s League. For O’Garro, the technical director for Cayman basketball, the drop in squad numbers is nothing new.
“One thing you have to realise is we set a cut-off date for registration,” O’Garro said. “Two teams got caught out and came late to register. That has happened in years past.
“We have only four teams because people registered late but we have to stick to our guns,” he added. “We needed to allow a week for scheduling and a lot of the players don’t understand the scheduling aspect of this, all they know is to play ball.
“We got four teams now and they’re compact, with the exception of George Town Sports Club, who are a make-up team. It’s not the best league we’ve ever had but there will be a good finals.”
George Town, 0-4, are currently the bottom team, trailing the 2-2 Silver Bullets, 3-1 Esso Blazers and 3-1 Dominos Warriors. Esso are the reigning national champions under head coach Shawn Pitterson, having beat out four other squads last year and have been the most vocal in regards to the contraction of the league.
Blazers assistant coach Carlos Pastor recently stated the reduction of teams was an injustice “because everyone is automatically in the playoffs. How do you find motivation to fight for something that’s already given to you?”
A pair of notable sides are absent this year. The Wolves, sponsored last year by DHL, did not field a team while 2012’s other competitor, the Moneygram Philippines, moved down to division two.
Indeed, previous seasons have featured upward of five squads. For example, 2008 had eight teams. From 2009 to 2011, the number of sides remained steady at seven. Over the last two years, fewer squads have taken part with 2012 producing five clubs.
O’Garro said the declining numbers are not an ominous sign for the future.
“To run a competition, we must have four teams, it has never been less than four teams. Last year we had five teams and again, this is not one of our best years. Hopefully next year, guys will remember this and register on time.”
Games in the 2013 league continue this Sunday, 14 April, at Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Centre. At 5.45pm, George Town face Dominos with Esso battling Silver Bullets at 7.30pm.
The Blazers had a convincing 87-70 victory over George Town last Sunday. Six Esso players were in double figures in Josh Cotterell (19 points, 10 rebounds), Nicholas Beverly (19 points, 10 rebounds), Perry Levy (12 points, six assists), Carlo Archibold (12 points, 17 rebounds), Barrett Edri (10 points off three 3-pointers) and Kevin Maxwell (10 points and 10 rebounds).
George Town countered with three top scorers in Daniel Mowatt (23 points, four rebounds), Eckerd McField (22 points, including two treys) and Chris Lucas (12 points and nine rebounds).
Dominos clipped the Silver Bullets, 71-68, last week. The Warriors were led by 22 points and 20 rebounds from Borislav Djordjic, with Vanrick Felix adding 17 points and Jerome Narcisse contributing 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Silver Bullets had four players in double digits in Brandon Glasgow (16 points, including two treys), Adam Milburn (14 points, six rebounds), Rohan Webster (10 points, five steals) and Chester Hurlston (10 points and six rebounds).
Sunday also sees a division two contest at 4pm, with 3-1 Game Takers battling 3-1 team Philippines. Game Takers are coming off a 61-51 victory over Titans last Sunday. Cleve Stewart led the winners with 13 points while Jason McKenzie added 10 points and 19 rebounds and Nigel Ebanks had 10 points. Bruce Thompson led Titans with 23 points and 11 rebounds.
Philippines had their biggest win of the season last Wednesday, beating perennial favourites Charterland 71-67. Juawon Ebanks paced the Filipinos with 15 points and six rebounds while Jeremy Strickland led Charterland, now 2-1, with 18 points and seven rebounds.
Prior to Wednesday’s games, the division two standings saw Game Takers, Philippines and Charterland followed by 1-1 Titans, Justin Nalty’s 1-2 Esso Blazers and Michael Blackburn’s 0-4 New Jerusalem.