Sports — 22 March 2013

“I received word through Stephen Williams about developments with the Belize National Basketball team, competing in San José, Costa Rica. In yesterday’s game, Englebert Cherrington ‘blew out’ his left knee during the first quarter and had to receive surgery. Cherrington is recovering and is expected to be released from hospital today. Darwin Carter and Keith Acosta have also suffered injuries, and it is not certain if they will be able to play today.”

Basketball official D. Lacey forwarded the above report to us last Friday, March 15, and things looked really bleak for our National Basketball Team. I had visited a workout session before they left for Costa Rica, and it was acknowledged from members of management that the team was severely handicapped by lack of any top level tournament in the country, as well as having to practice at the severely inadequate and undersized Birds Isle court.

But, nevertheless, when we spoke to head coach Matthew Smiling today, he said the Belize team, despite their setbacks, made a heroic effort, and indeed, received a standing ovation after their last game against already acknowledged tournament champions Costa Rica. He said almost all the opposing players in the competition spoke with American accents (USA based), and Costa Rican fans had expected a “walk through the park” against Belize, after their team had beaten Nicaragua and Salvador by large margins.

Englebert Cherrington tore his knee and was taken to hospital from early in the first half of our opening game against Honduras, who defeated us, 76-70. “We should have won that game,” remarked Smiling, “as we had a 1-point lead in the last few seconds, but lost possession.” Both Darwin Carter and Keith Acosta were injured in the second game, against Nicaragua, who defeated us, 76-61, and the two sat out the Salvador game, which we lost, 75-60; but both of them would return for the final game against the undefeated and confident host team Costa Rica.

Matthew said the arena was loud at the start of the final game, with Costa Rican fans in a celebratory mood and anticipating a blow-out; but the boisterous crowd soon became quiet when the 1st quarter ended 12-12, and at the half the score was only 31-30 in favour of Costa Rica. With 7 minutes left in the 4th, Belize was only down by 5 pts, before Costa Rica managed, with some questionable calls, to eventually pull away near the end to an 89-72 victory, prompting the Costa Rican fans to give the Belize team a standing ovation as they left the court. Darwin Carter led the scoring with 25 pts.

“The final score does not tell the whole story of that game,” commented Smiling.

Members of the Belize National Basketball Team to the C.A. Games were: Keith Acosta, Darwin Carter, Englebert Cherrington, Leon Jacobs, Gene Myvett, Farron Louriano, Lindberg Graham, Benedict Terry, Ty Bradley, Steven Williams, Jarrell Velasquez and Leon Williams. Head coach was Matthew Smiling, assisted by Fred Gabourel and delegate Fred Garcia, Jr., along with trainer Harold Zuniga.

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