Sports — 07 July 2018 — by Courtney Menzies
Basketball champions celebrated with luncheon

U19 and U13 both won gold; U17 won silver

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. July 5, 2018– The Ahmadiyya Basketball team recently participated in the “Hoops on the Beach” basketball tournament held in Cancun, Mexico. Despite the lack of facilities provided for them to practice and the limited time they had, the U13 and U19 teams both managed to bring home the gold while the U17 team brought home silver

Naveed Mangla, the president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, Belize, said that just taking the teams out of the country to participate in the tournament was a success for them. The basketball league has been running for the last 4 years, and in the last couple of years it had about 100 youths participating. The basketball tournament lasts from January to May, and this year it was extended to include 400 youths.

The league is made up of players from all over Belize, but also some from Mexico. They have competed in many tournaments including one in Campeche, where the U17 and the U19 won gold.

In this tournament, in Cancun, U19 won gold, beating Florida and Puerto Rico in overtime. The U17, however, lost in the semifinals against Florida.

Shooting guard for the U19, Llewellyn Gentle, said that the other teams had more practice time, but they had raw athleticism. He said they already know how the other members of their team play and if they had more opportunity to practice in the gyms, they would have been better. Still, without that practice time, they still won.

Philip Parks, who plays both point guard and shooting guard, said that he was most worried about the Puerto Rican team because they had big guys and they had great shooters. He said he is glad that they are being recognized by the National Sports Council because that recognition could help them get more sponsors which will, in turn, allow them to participate in more tournaments so Belize can get more exposure.

Cleon McKoy, a coach who works with the U-17 and U-19 teams, said that for the tryouts they had over 50 young men show up, and it was a lot of work to form the two teams. He said that the young men had a lot of talent, and so making the decision on who would travel was difficult.

Mckoy also said that these young men are our future national team players and support from the National Sports Council is necessary because they need the recognition. He said this recognition will make other youths want to participate.

Jamel Wagner, another coach, mentioned that if the youths are given the opportunity to shine, they will. He said that the final game for U19 was intense, but the Ahmadiyya tournament really helped.

As for the U17 team, Kerdell Tench, the point guard, said that their game was also intense. He said that even though Florida was leading, they were able to balance it out. However, even though Belize had more baskets, Florida had more 3 point shots.

Tench made mention that they don’t have a lot of facilities where they are able to practice, but they do participate in plenty of tournaments.

The National Sports Council plans to reward the teams with new equipment, including new basketballs, coolers, etc.

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