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Chance to shine against top opposition

International Meet: the head coaches of the teams taking in the Bermuda Thanksgiving Basketball Classic (from left) Nyron Hurd (Camperdown High School, Jamaica), Jason Lowe (Wolfpack Elite, Bermuda) Chris Crumpler (Event organiser), Linto Ellis (Crossroads Christian High School, Chicago), Randy Reed (Boca Rotan Christian High School, Florida).

Chris Crumpler, the director of player development at the Bermuda Basketball Youth Federation, has challenged the island’s rising stars to make their mark at the Bermuda Thanksgiving Basketball Classic, commencing today.

After a five-year absence, Crumpler, in association with Wolfpack Elite Basketball, has reintroduced the tournament for its fourth instalment, which for the first time will involve the inclusion of three international teams.

Representing Bermuda, Wolfpack Elite, coached by Jason Lowe, a national team player, will take on two teams from the United States in the form of Crossroads Christian High School, from Chicago, and Boca Raton Christian High School, from Florida, with Jamaica’s Camperdown High School completing the line-up.

As well as the added excitement of welcoming overseas opponents for the first time, Crumpler is looking forward to watching the players rise to occasion to do their respective countries proud on the court.

“We are hosting our first international event, which is really exciting for the tournament,” said Crumpler, who is the co-founder of the Wolfpack Elite Basketball programme.

“We haven’t hosted one in five years, so we are hoping this will ignite a more frequent tournament of this format.

“It is going to be high-intensity and high-quality basketball, there is a lot of pride at stake because these teams are representing their countries. All of the players will be looking to make a name for themselves; that’s what I’m looking for from the Wolfpack.

“These players are all focused on basketball, this is their pride and you will see the best of what the schools have to offer.

“This is also a huge opportunity for the Bermudian players to show just how good we are in comparison to overseas players and teams.

“They have the chance to show they can deal with the pressure and execute their skills against strong opposition.

“When I first started out coaching basketball on the island, the standard was almost non-existent, now we are at the stage where we are almost compatible with any age level elsewhere.

“We are not quite there just yet; I’d say we are still at the developmental stage, but we hope that tournaments like this can really light the fire and passion in younger generations to really develop to a higher quality.”

Having endured a five-year exodus, Crumpler is desperate to seize the opportunity of the tournament being back in the spotlight with the hope that enough success will generate the demand for a regular staging of the sporting showcase.

“There is no way this event would happen without the support of our sponsors,” Crumpler conceded.

“For that reason, I really want to thank them as well as the BTA [Bermuda Tourism Authority] for having the belief in us to put together an event like this once again.

“At the worst case, I’d love to host this tournament every two years but depending on the support and sponsorship, I feel we have a great event and the infrastructure in place that it could be run annually.

“With partnerships being made with teams from overseas, there is no reason why we can’t keep building to help showcase the sport we all love.”

• The round-robin stage of the tournament starts today with Bermuda’s Wolfpack taking on Crossroads Christian High School at 1.15pm, followed by Boca Rotan facing Camperdown High School at 2.30pm.

After each of the sides face each other once, a third-place play-off will take place tomorrow at 3.30pm before the showpiece final at 4.45pm to determine the champions.