Wednesday, 16 May 2012 02:30
By Ian Magic Hughes
Antigua St John's - President of the Antigua & Barbuda Basketball Association Jules Bowen has said national interest in basketball is moving in a positive direction.
Since taking over the association two-and-a-half years ago, Bowen said he has watched the interest grow significantly, and credits the players for keeping the sport hype alive.
“This season is extremely tough and competitive,” Bowen told Caribarena.com. “There was a time when the interest was on a couple of teams in the First Division, but now almost all the teams in the first and second divisions are competitive. On any given night, any team can beat its opponent."
The renewed interest in the sport is not just due to the players, but rather steps the association made to have live commentaries on radio on Saturday and Sunday evenings.
Former national team point guard Karl “Boli” Knight is the point man on the commentary team, with assistance from Aldo McCoy.
With two weeks left in the D1 regular season, Big Banana Express lead the competition with eight wins, the last a buzzer beater by Xavier “X-Man” Meade against JSC Hawks and one loss.
Three teams, Yorks Crushers, New Thriving Roots, and Akhimo Ltd trail Express with seven wins and two defeats. Inet Ottos and Yogi Warriors are winless in the 12-team competition.
Keroi Lee of Akhimo Ltd leads the division in scoring with an impressive 27.21 points per game - average five points ahead of Coy Quinland of Hawks.
In the D2 league, two teams Freetown Travellers and B&G Ovals are undefeated and on a collision course for the division title ahead of the playoffs.
Besides the excitement and thrill of the league, however, Bowen believes the highlight of his presidency thus far is getting players overseas to play professionally.
“Players can make this sport a career not just on the court but off it as well,” the president said. “We have players over in Dominican Republic earning a salary from the sport, and there are also opportunities as coaches, referees, commentators, and the like. We hope that when the adults see the children going to the courts, that they encourage them because basketball can be very rewarding.”
Quinland, Vivian “Boast” Destin, and Meade have all gone to the DR to play basketball, and Bowen is hoping that their success will open the door for others.
“We see a great future in sending players overseas,” said Bowen. “The success of Termite (Lennox McCoy) made it possible for these players (Destine, Meade, and Quinland) to play in DR. We are hoping that their successes will make it possible for even more players to get the chance to play in a professional environment.”
Meanwhile, Bowen continues to encourage the players to keep working hard and lay the groundwork for future players.
A new website, ISNantigua.com, highlights local basketball. Once better facilities are built, Bowen believes that the sky is the limit for players in Antigua & Barbuda.