BELIZE CITY, Wed. Dec. 8, 2021– Basketball action was in full swing this past weekend in neighbouring Chetumal, Mexico. The Big Ballers International Basketball Tournament organized by ABC Basketball Academy saw participation from hundreds of players who hailed from all over Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. The Ahmadiyya Basketball League (ABL) accepted the invitation to this tournament and decided to take a U17 basketball team. The participants from this team came from 3 city clubs, namely Belama Gators, Future Shock and ABS Hard Rock. They were pooled together and taught drills to solidify the chemistry needed to go into a weekend tournament like this and come out with a victory.
The starting line-up saw captain and co-captain, Jameer Young and Kentrell Marshall as guards, while Devin Moody, Keon Rowland and Shane Pratt rotated down low. This proved to be a recipe for disaster for the opposing teams.
The first game played was on Friday, December 3, against Guardians from Cancun, which ended 71-9 in favour of Ahmadiyya Belize led by big man Devin Moody’s 19 pts and Kentrell Marshall 14 pts.
The second game, played a couple hours later on the same day, saw Belize face off with Delphines from Chetumal, who is well accustomed to our style of play, and who had 2 Belizean players on their roster. However, that game ended 58-17, led by Shane Pratt’s 15 pts followed by 10 pts from Lebron Reneau.
On Saturday, December 4, Belize had 2 games scheduled, after which positioning for playoffs would be determined.
Our first game was against Marlins from La Isla Mujeres, which ended 66-31, led by Devin Moody’s 19 pts followed by Kentrell Marshall 11 pts.
Then it was on to the 4th game, against Modelo from Yucatan. The stakes were high and the players knew it. Modelo started out gunning and had our team down by 3 points at the end of the first quarter; however, after a little motivation from coach Jamel Wagner the team regrouped and ended the game 57-24, led by 14 pts from Jameer Young and 10 from Devin Moody.
On Sunday, December 5, it was on to the semi-finals and the final game.
The semi-final game saw our boys in action against Modelo Maya from Campeche, who were one of the favourites for many to win it all. This game drew a huge crowd, since the winner would then advance to the finals. Our home boys gathered together, knowing this game wouldn’t be easy. When the dust settled, Belize walked away with the big win, 51-37, led by big man Shane Pratt’s 12 pts and Devin Moody’s 11 pts. With this win we advanced to the finals.
The final game was played at 3:00 o’clock on Sunday afternoon. We had a very familiar opponent in Alphas from Chetumal. This is a basketball academy whose primary focus is basketball. They have also entered teams in the annual Ahmadiyya Basketball League to learn our style of play and also to recruit promising young stars. At the start of the whistle it was evident that this game would be our toughest yet. It was war in the first quarter; however, Belize began to run the court and find the open man for an easy finish. The game ended 59-29, and just like that the Ahmadiyya Belize U17 selection was crowned champions of the Big Ballers Tournament 2021.
In light of the victory, we would love to recognise players Harlem Noralez, Lebron Reneau, Jahren Rivers, Randy Henry, Jr., and David Maheia, who all strategically came off the bench and made a huge impact in all the games. We would also like to recognise coaches Darwin “Puppy” Leslie, Linbert Moody, Clinton Pulu Lightburn and Emil Young for their hard work in preparing these young athletes. Special Thank You to Hon. Kevin Bernard, the Ministry of Health, and Big Respect to head coach Jamel Wagner. Ahmadiyya Basketball League thanks you all!!!