Caribbean hoopsters target us


The arrival of a central public venue for basketball may bring a major regional tournament to the Cayman Islands. 

The Caribbean Basketball Confederation is considering Cayman as host for the 2014 Under-15 and Under-16 Championships. Aside from the Cayman Islands, Aruba, St. Lucia and the Virgin Islands are considered possibilities. 

Victor “Voot” O’Garro is Cayman’s technical director for basketball and a member of the confederation’s executive committee. He said the tournament has a history in Cayman. 

“That will be a magnificent opportunity for us to play at this level,” O’Garro said. “As a matter of fact, we held the first U-19 tournament in the Caribbean in 1995. It was very successful as Cayman came in fourth. This would be an opportunity for us to host at a different level.” 

The 1995 competition took place in the Lions Center, Cayman’s original home for basketball up until the passing of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, which ravaged the facility. Next year’s tournament coming to these shores will hinge on government completing the auditorium at the John Gray High School campus.  

John Gray is one of two new high schools being built by government, with their completion projected to cost more than $200 million. Clifton Hunter opened in September 2012, while the new John Gray High School remains unfinished. 

Basketball, one of Cayman’s six focus sports, presently has no set indoor venue as current sites such as Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Center and the University College of the Cayman Islands multipurpose hall charge a rental fee. The association has an outdoor court off Eastern Avenue, but the court surface and impact of weather conditions make for a less-than-ideal setting. 

Local hoops is currently in the midst of its Domino’s Pizza Under-19 Basketball League, which features the likes of Shaquille Heath and Alessandra Hawkins. The confederation championships are not new for Cayman, as the national U-15 team competed at the 2012 CentroBasket Championships. In Mexico, Chloe Powery and the girls side finished fifth, while Franz Manderson Jr. and the boys did not win a game in El Salvador. 

O’Garro said in spite of that recent history, there are high hopes for the confederation championships. 

“It has shown our base programs are well-prepared and we’re ready for that,” he said. “This is nothing strange for us and we’re expecting to do well.” 


Alessandra Hawkins is a budding local prodigy. – PHOTOS: MATTHEW YATES