Belize’s National Team placed third in the recently concluded U15 COCABA Tournament which was held in El Salvador. Paul Thompson, President of the Belize Basketball Federation, told the media that it was quite an accomplishment, especially given the short period of time that the team had to prepare.
Paul Thompson – President of the Belize Basketball Federation: “This Championship, Central American Championship was held in El Salvador from the 11th of April until the 15th of April. We had 7 countries participating in this tournament starting from Belize all the way to Panama. The Belize National Team placed 3rd, won Bronze Medal at this tournament. The team comprised of players from all across the country starting with Benque Villejo, San Ignacio, Dangriga, Corozal, Orange Walk and we had one player form the United States that’s living in the United States. We are very proud of our U15 National Team; we had limited amount of time practice, we did well under the circumstances, we placed third and with this placement we are hopeful that we will be eligible to play in the Central Basket, I say hopeful because Panama hosting the Central Basket Tournament will allow us to be a participant in that Central Basket Tournament so we are very proud of all the different entities that allowed this to happen.”
Matthew Smiling Jr., National Men Head Coach, recounted the team’s performance at the tournament.
Matthew Smiling Jr. – National Men Head Coach: “On Wednesday the 11th we played our first game against Panama which we lost by 29 points. They made a lot of mistakes and I attribute that to the nervousness of the guy, it was our first game but they didn’t lose heart; we practiced hard the next day and we recovered and bounced back to defeat Nicaragua by 19. The third game on Friday was very I would say personal for all of us because we played against Guatemala and we were determined not to lose that game. The Co- Captain of the team Izid Lopez made his point in that tournament not to lose to Guatemala by scoring 30 points and that was the high scorer of the game and I think the person that scored the most points in that tournament for a day, I am not too sure of that but I think that’s it. Our fourth game against Costa Rica on Saturday was real physical and I think that’s what got to us to the eventual loss to Costa Rica by 12 but again we rebounded back on Sunday to win the Bronze Medal against El Salvador. Like Mr. Thompson said we had limited time to prepare, we actually started preparing March 3rd, the trip left the 10th of April so we had a little under six weeks to prepare and I must say that we did exceptionally well due to the fact that we were going up against countries and teams that have been preparing for this tournament for over a year.”
Smiling said the late preparation was due to a lack of finance. The Belize Basketball Federation hopes that they will be able to receive sufficient finance to prepare for the Central Basket which takes place later this year in Panama.