Crumpler targets gold medal ‘three-peat’
Veteran basketballer Chris Crumpler has backed Bermuda to defeat Saaremaa and claim a third successive gold medal at the NatWest Island Games.
Saaremaa are the only team standing in Bermuda’s way of a ‘three-peat’ after several islands pulled out of the competition — the first to be held outside Europe — due to the high travel costs.
Bermuda beat Saaremaa, the largest island in Estonia, in the Island Games final two years ago and Crumpler has no doubt his teammates will be even more dominant with home court advantage.
“We have the same group of players who won gold at the past two Island Games, although we will be looking to pass on the torch to our younger players,” said the point guard.
“Saaremaa are a strong team and I’m sure they will want payback after losing to us two years ago.”
Boosting Bermuda’s chances of success is the availability Sullivan Phillips who spent last season playing professionally for Goettingen in Germany.
Phillips has more than ten years of experience of the European pro ranks having previously played in Cyprus, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic. And Crumpler believes the big swingman’s extra know-how as a ‘floor general’ will help inspire Bermuda to victory.
“Sully’s not only a leader but a great team player and has an enthusiasm that’s contagious — we all kind of follow his lead,” he said. “He’s is a floor general and he’s been doing it as a pro for a long time.”
Like Phillips, Crumpler is approaching the twilight of basketball career and intends to adopt a backseat role during next week’s competition to give more court time to Bermuda’s youngsters.
“My philosophy in previous years was to be dominant and win, but this year I want to be a great teammate and encourage the other guys,” said Crumpler. “I’ll be taking a backseat this year because we want to give other guys an opportunity.
“We have got a lot of players in their 30s and we have a lot of younger players who are hungry to shine so we’re going to let that happen. I’m purposefully going to reduce my minutes to give these young guys a chance.”
Crumpler, who is heavily involved in the Bermuda Basketball Association’s youth programme, admits he’s slightly disappointed more teams aren’t taking part in the basketball competition.
But he still hopes the Bermuda public lend their support and cheer on the best players the Island has to offer. “We would have liked to have more teams coming here but coach Roderick Spencer has made sure we’re all on point and focused,” said Crumpler.
“It’s important we still showcase Bermuda basketball and it’s a good opportunity for the country to see our best local players in action.”
Bermuda, who toured Buffalo, New York, in May in preparation for the Games, will play Saaremaa in three matches — two preliminaries and a medal game.
Crumpler added: “The good thing is we’re going to have three competitive games against Saaremaa.
“We have been playing in a hot gym because I don’t think Saaremaa will be used to playing in this kind of heat.”
Bermuda’s opening game against Saaremaa will be held at Bermuda College on Sunday at 7pm .