Belize tries to reach the highest level ever – the Round of 16 in FIBA World Cup Tournament for the Americas
BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Feb. 21, 2019– This weekend at the Belize Civic Center, our Belize National Basketball Team will attempt to reach the highest level it has ever been – the Round of 16 in the FIBA World Cup Tournament for the Americas. To accomplish that, Belize will have to emerge as one of the top two teams from this weekend’s international quadrangular which starts on Friday evening, with two games being played each night – Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Participating national teams will be from Antigua & Barbuda, Belize, Bahamas, and Cuba.
The Belize National Team was presented at a press conference this morning at the Best Western Biltmore Plaza Hotel, where Belize Basketball Federation (BBF) President Paul Thompson and Secretary Julian Murillo introduced the team members and coaching staff who will attempt to make history for Belize this weekend. Coach Milton Palacio is assisted by Darren Bovell, and players include, in alphabetical order – Daniel Conorque, Devin Daly, Tyrone Hall, Elsworth Itza, Glency Lopez, Edgar Mitchell, Elvis Olivera, Kirk Smith, Richard Troyer, Brian White, Jihad Wright, and Matthew Young.
All participating teams are being hosted at the Biltmore. Antigua & Barbuda is already here; Panama was expected to arrive this afternoon by bus (due to flight difficulties, they flew to Cancun and bused to Chetumal and then to Belize); and Bahamas will fly in tomorrow morning, Friday.
According to BBF Secretary, Julian Murillo, “… there are 4 teams fighting for 2 spots; the top 2 teams advance to that final round, the Round of 16. Our success in this tournament would place us the furthest we’ve ever gone in international basketball in the history of the country; and therefore, we’re really counting on the support of fans from across the country for each of those games.”
BBF President Paul Thompson reiterated that this tournament could “lead us to the furthest point we’ve ever been in basketball in our history.” He went on to explain that, “… in the Americas we have 42 countries that participate in basketball to try to go to a higher level, meaning the Olympics or the World Championship. And, of these 42 countries, there are 16 countries that are in Group A, as it’s called. And in that Group A, those 16 teams are divided into 4 groups. And so, over the last year or so, basketball has been played within those 16 countries; and the bottom 4 countries have been relegated. And in this tournament, we have 2 of those countries participating; and those 2 countries are Cuba and the Bahamas. Belize and Antigua & Barbuda are trying to advance to that 16; and so, the competition here this weekend will be very formidable.”
Coach Milt Palacio noted that, as the other teams are bigger, Belize will need to rely on our speed, speed and defense. “Our big guys are going to have a task this weekend… and I know they are going to play their butts off… and our guards are going to help them out with rebounding.” Fan support will be key, as usual. Milt recalled that, in the last tournament we played, our players felt too much pressure to be perfect, and it affected their shooting. He reminded players that, “First and foremost, you got to have fun… I think this time we got to be a bit more loose. And I think we got to go out there and execute the game plan. You got to be confident in what you’re doing; and just relax.”
Belizean fans know that our guys will be giving their all. So we just got to give them the love, unconditionally, and they will “loosen up” and play their best game for us. Belize all the way!!
As the home team, Belize gets to play in the nightcap game each night. Ticket prices for each night’s double header are $10.00 – general admission, $25.00 – VIP, and $50.00 – courtside.
Friday, February 22
6:00 p.m. – Bahamas vs Cuba
8:30 p.m. – Antigua vs Belize
Saturday, February 23
6:00 p.m. – Bahamas vs Antigua
8:30 p.m. – Cuba vs Belize
Sunday, February 24
6:00 p.m. – Cuba vs Antigua
8:30 p.m. – Bahamas vs Belize
Photo caption: BBF presents the Belize National Basketball Team, (Sitting, l to r) BBF secretary, Julian Murillo; head coach, Milton Palacio; BBF president, Paul Thompson; players, Devin Daly, Jihad Wright, Tyrone Hall, Edgar Mitchell; (Standing, l to r) asst. coach, Darren Bovell; players, Glency Lopez, Richard Troyer, Elvis Olivera, Brian White, Elsworth Itza, Matthew Young, Kirk Smith, and Daniel Conorque.