BELIZE CITY, Wed. July 22, 2015–Yesterday morning, at the Quan Volleyball Gym on Princess Margaret Drive, manager/owner of Hoop Dreams Belize, Brads Neal presented to the assembled media his triumphant U-19 basketball team along with the beautiful silver trophy they recently won as champions of the Copa Cancun tournament in Cancun, Mexico.
The team, consisting of some of the best young players in Belize who have been with the Hoop Dreams program for the past five years, travelled to Cancun last week for four consecutive days of basketball competition, from Thursday to Sunday, in which they won 6 games on their way to the Copa Cancun championship. Despite blowing out most of their opponents, they did have one very big test against the recently crowned Mexican U-19 champions, Veracruz Marlins.
According to Brads Neal, “They were the champs of the country … and they were geared to play against us. The media, everybody was hyped about it, thought it was going to be a great game, and they thought that the Marlins was going to beat us. But it was a hard fought game, and in the last minute of the fourth quarter, we took that step to victory.”
The final scores for the 6 games played by Hoop Dreams Belize (HDB) U-19 team were: HDB 72-22 Pioneros Q. Roo; HDB 87-39 Hurricanes; HDB 54-30 Barracudas; HDB 65-61 Veracruz Marlins; HDB 64-37 Pioneros; HDB 46-30 UNI Celaya.
One player on the ten-member team, Jordan Usher, was not at the press conference “because of miss-communication.” He is the only international player and is presently attending prep school in Brooklyn. As a youth, he attended Holy Redeemer primary school in Belize City.
Glency was unstoppable
Coach Brads Neal had high words of praise for all ten team members, but was positively ecstatic in describing the performance of shooting guard/small forward Glency Lopez.
Said coach Neal, directing the cameras to Glency, “That right there was our MVP. He took the game over. He was just fabulous. I just hope we have a film of what he’s done against the Marlins team. He was what you call unstoppable. Their coach just couldn’t … they had no answers for him. I saw them put four, five different guys on him; change their defence three, four times. And we just have a play that we just call ‘Iso.’ And he was just unbelievable. He just brought what … what Belize basketball is all about. He took it to an international level; and he was just fabulous.”
For his part, the soft spoken Glency admitted, “I thought we were going to lose; but I don’t know what happened. I just pushed myself; coach Brads told me to push myself; so, we just ended up with a win.”
Belize, support your kids!
In addressing the media after the player introductions, assistant coach Harry Grant, who said he was once a U-17 champ out of Rogers Stadium, and later played with basketball legend Clinton “Pulu” Lightburn on Acros Jah Jam, made an emotional and tearful plea on behalf of his players to the nation and to parents.
Harry began, “I’m happy for these kids. First of all, I want to thank Brads and everybody who is here; so you all can see what is going on in Belize; because this is the future. We must educate our kids. We must start basic basketball, volleyball and football and everything at the primary school level. If we don’t start there, we will never have good athletes. I want to big-up Body 2000. These are the places that help these kids. I take the kids in the mornings, so they could work out …”
Harry was becoming more intense, and his voice louder and with more emotion. “I would like for Belize to really pay attention to what’s happening in the ‘hood.’ The kids they’re killing up each other. We must give back to the kids. Kids are our future. Understand? Next thing, there’s a tournament coming up again … right here … in November. We need Belize to support these kids …. Make the kids look like how these kids look (shows Mexican magazine with youth teams well attired). See how these kids look?”
By now, the tears were welling up in Harry’s eyes, as he challenged the audience. “This is the way how our kids should be looking! These are our kids! When we go out there we are looking ‘no way’… but we bring everything back. But look when Belize play … Court two? All the Mexicans (are) in there watching us play. Belize, you’re supposed to see your kids play! You must start supporting the kids! Come out and watch your kids play! Support your kids!! The Mexicans are there supporting their kids. And their kids ‘no have no game,’ but they are supporting their kids. Parents, support unu children! Support the youths them in the ‘hood,’ so they stop killing each other!”
Harry then took it to another level. “Every day unu go on TV looking to see the kids them, who all dead. But look to see when they are doing good. See, they are doing good now; show this! This is what you are to show. Show this, and start to spend money on the kids. PetroCaribe. Unu spend the money! Spend the money on these things here. BEL, WASA, all a unu, spend the money pan di lee pickney dehn, so that things really happen fi true, if unu want a better Belize, and stop play eena di classroom. FIRE!!”
Brads Neal said that the Sports Council contributed $8,000.00 of PetroCaribe funds towards the cost of the trip to Cancun, Mexico.