Today, the Belize Under-17 National Basketball Team returned from Costa Rica where they participated in the COCABA U-17 Championship Tournament, which got underway on Tuesday. Our national team brought home Silver from the games, and they were met by proud family members and supporters at the Phillip Goldson International Airport.
Amandala spoke to team captain Tariq Middleton, who told us that the team is proud of its performance at the tournament. He explained that Belize won against all the other teams except Mexico, to which they lost twice, the first time by two points and the second time by nineteen. He told us that the team fought hard in this tournament.
He said that although the team’s performance could have been better, it was still very good, because we got a chance to show the teams from the larger countries that, even though we were from a very small nation, we were fighters who used the fact that we were being overlooked to our advantage.
We also spoke to the team’s coach, Fred Garcia, who told us that the main goal for the team was to get Belize into the August tournament. He said that there were 7 teams split into two divisions; unfortunately, Belize ended up in the division of four teams, which meant that our boys played everyday, starting from Tuesday until late last night.
He said that they played Mexico in the championship game that started at 6:00 p.m. yesterday; unfortunately, Mexico, having benefitted from a bye in the tournament, had more rest and fresher legs. He said that the main reason that our boys lost was because the team was tired and couldn’t keep up with Mexico, which was already a physically bigger team. He said that most of our team comprised of the players who moved on from the U-15 national team, along with a very few seniors.
He told us that while our boys were beaten in that tournament at the end, it was part of a learning experience for the entire team because, while they are some of the best players from Belize, they saw that on the bigger stage, their level of play needs to be elevated.
With their 2nd place performance in this tournament, our boys get to compete in the U-17 Centrobasket Championship to be held in Puerto Rico in August of this year. The team will then meet 1st place Mexico again, and hopefully with a better result.
Article courtesy Amandala; written by Daniel Ortiz | Photos courtesy Charles Hyde