The unchallenged culture capital of the nation, and often promoted as also the football capital, Griga has over the past weekend made a strong claim to another title, that of being the basketball Mecca in Belize; this after they were crowned champions of the first BBF “Gaspar Vega” Elite Marathon in Orange Walk Town on Sunday.
In anticipation and preparation for its upcoming Elite Tournament, reportedly scheduled to be launched early in 2014, the Belize Basketball Federation (BBF) invited the various national associations to select teams to participate in a showcase basketball marathon over the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, October 12-13. With the sponsorship of Hon. Gaspar Vega and additional financial assistance from Belize Telemedia Ltd., the BBF “Gaspar Vega” Elite Marathon was held at the Orange Walk Multipurpose Complex with eight teams participating, representing the six districts as well as Belmopan and San Pedro.
The Elite Marathon followed a “knockout” format, and the Dangriga selection racked up a 3-0 record, defeating Belize City, San Pedro and then the San Ignacio selection in the final game, to take the $1,000.00 cash prize. Leading Dangriga to victory in the finals was Daniel Nolberto with 17 pts 7 rebs 6 assts, along with Macario Augustine 16 pts 15 rebs and Jamir Flores 15 pts 5 assts; while for San Ignacio, Kurt Burgess had 17 pts 22 rebs.
The Dangriga victory was certainly no fluke. In August of this year at the Ballers for Life Summer Camp, Dangriga also won the U-12 and the U-18 categories. San Ignacio, the runner up team in the Elite Marathon, went 2-1 and was led by Kurt “Chengo” Burgess, who was surrounded by a number of young players as well as smooth point guard Ivan Flowers.
The results of games played were: on Saturday – Stann Creek 71-65 Belize District; San Pedro 85-74 Corozal; Belmopan 89-53 Punta Gorda; San Ignacio 96-91 Orange Walk; and Sunday – Stann Creek 69-63 San Pedro; San Ignacio 78-60 Belmopan; Stann Creek 81-54 San Ignacio.
The Elite Marathon was a preview of the National Elite Basketball League that is scheduled to commence early next year. There will no doubt be some roster changes before the tip-off of the National Elite League, but if it is any indication of what is to come, there are a number of young and new faces that will be introduced to the Elite basketball landscape. Here are a few more names to look for in the upcoming Elite League: Brian White – Belize; Trevaughn Usher and Shai Peters – Dangriga; Randy Usher and Roger Reneau – Orange Walk; and Jaime Carbajal – San Ignacio.
(Information and picture courtesy BBF)
(Ed. Note: Taking nothing away from Griga, it is noted that Winston Pratt participated in the BDBA Firms semifinals, leading his Customs team to back-to-back victories on Thursday and Friday nights at Bird’s Isle, and then also performed for San Pedro on Saturday and Sunday in the Elite Marathon in Orange Walk. We don’t know if any Belize District selection players were similarly affected.)