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U-19 Basketball players head to Dru Joyce Classic 2019 in Akron, Ohio

Young basketball players in the Light & Peace Basketball Foundation’s U19 Selection left the country this afternoon and headed to the US. The team will be taking part in the Dru Joyce Classic 2019 in Akron, Ohio. It is a premier US travel basketball tournament series for youth that has been held annually for over a decade. It will take place from April 26-28 and the tournament will feature boys and girls teams, competing in about 50 gyms across Akron City. The tournament’s founder, Dry Joyce II says that this year, players from as many as 20 states in the US as well as other countries, including Belize and Canada will be participating. Joyce, who was LeBron James’ High School Coach, launched the tournament in Akron because he felt young players there were being under-recruited. It took on and has seen current NBA players like Brandon Knight, Tyreke Evans, Luke Kennard and Derrick Rose compete in it before making it big. The event has also presented an opportunity for young players to showcase their skills as the event is attended by college basketball coaches. Belize’s players told us this afternoon they are more than excited.

Xylon Belgrove – U19 Basketball Player: “This tournament is basically to sponsor youths and kids from the age range of fourteen to nineteen to try to give them a scholarship in the US or Canada.”

Dalila Ical – Reporter: “Is this the first time that you guys will be going out?”

Xylon Belgrove – U19 Basketball Player: “No mam, last year our team went out and I think ten out of the twelve guys got scholarships from the US. Knowing that I can get an opportunity to attend a college school in the US or a Honor Sports Scholarship from a US or Canada team is pretty overwhelming for me.”

Dalila Ical – Reporter: “Looking forward to it I can imagine?”

Xylon Belgrove – U19 Basketball Player: “Very much.”

Jaylen Lennon – U19 Basketball Player: “It is an amazing and life time goal for a lot of youths in Belize and getting this chance to go out, you just have to prove yourself, enjoy yourself and have fun.”

Dalila Ical – Reporter: “As a very young baller what are your plans? Is basketball something that you plan to take on as a career or is this really just an experience for you?”

Jaylen Lennon – U19 Basketball Player: “It’s an experience and I plan to make it further but if I get the chance to take it further I will do my best to go further.”

Karimi Lambert – U19 Basketball Player: “It’s all about representation, Belize is a small country and we are not very shown on the stage like that. To be given an opportunity to be on the stage is a really powerful feeling. I really feel like I have to be an Ambassador of my country and represent well.”

Dalila Ical – Reporter: “Are you ready for this trip?”

Karimi Lambert – U19 Basketball Player: “ I guess so yes.”

Reporter: “What sort of preparations have you and other members of the team have been engaging in to prepare yourself for the tournament?”

Karimi Lambert – U19 Basketball Player: “The team was selected in late February, we have been practicing from then in preparation for this tournament.”

Reporter: “Do you feel that Belize has a very strong chance of winning or doing very well? Given that other countries have facilities that our young ballers and our young athletes don’t necessarily get?”

Karimi Lambert – U19 Basketball Player: “What I often hear in Belize is the term raw talent and despite us not having the facilities I feel like we have a very good chance of playing against teams with bigger and better resources.”

This is the fifteenth year that the tournament is being held and organizers are expecting between 25,000 to 40,000 people to be in Akron over the three days.