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Island youngsters head to Dominican Republic

The Bermuda Basketball Association is sending a team of young players to Dominican Republic to play three matches next week.

The team of ten are made up most of up and coming players, with brothers Jason and Jonathan Lowe the only two with national team experience. They will play matches next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday against local teams.

“It's who has never played at the national team level so that I can see what their level really is against some of the top teams down there,” said national team coach Gavin MacKenzie. “I'm taking ten players down there, including the two veterans. They are all in their 20s.”

Ahead later this summer is the World Indigenous Basketball Challenge in Vancouver, when Bermuda will send their national team to compete against countries like Australia, New Zealand and Sudan, the defending champions, who beat Bermuda last year in the semi-finals.

“We are one of the 16 teams that got selected,” said MacKenzie of the tournament that will run from August 9-12.

MacKenzie says basketball in Bermuda is starting to thrive, ranked 84 out of 213 teams in the world. “We're more than halfway in our ranking so we just want to maintain that,” he said. “We're building up the young players to see where they're at.

“Everybody is preparing for the Vancouver trip, a virtually all-expenses paid trip so nobody is turning that down.”

Tim Trott, head of the BBA international committee, said the trip to the Dominican Republic will be a good opportunity for the young players. The team had a workout with some senior players last evening at the CedarBridge Academy gym.

“It's a good opportunity for these younger player, half of the team hasn't had an opportunity to represent Bermuda at all,” he noted. “How they do will determine if they get picked for the national team.

“Jason Lowe, the older brother, has been part of our programme since 2005, while Jonathan joined in 2015 and was selected then to go to the last Caribbean Basketball Confederation Tournament we went to in 2015.”

Trott expects Sudan, who have many of their players based in Canada, to again be formidable opponents in Vancouver. “We got past the first round stage and ended up playing them and lost,” Trott said.

“Because the tournament is bigger they have moved it to a bigger venue. We know about a few of the teams and it will be a lot better competition this time.

“We will definitely have a stronger team, we will be looking to send out best team to that tournament. We had a previous executive committee two years ago and one of the things I thought we weren't doing enough of was competing overseas, whether in actual competition or like this trip [to Dominican Republic] to assess talent.”

Trott added: “Unfortunately we don't get much funding from Government, so players have to come out of pocket. This is seen as an off-year, next year we have the Caribbean tournament which is seen as our biggest tournament.”

Running man: Kieron Burgess dribbles in a practice session at CedarBridge Academy for a tournament in the Dominican Republic (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

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Published May 31, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated May 31, 2017 at 12:50 am)

Island youngsters head to Dominican Republic

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