Several negative statements regarding the U15 basketball team inspired me to write this particular article and those two statements will become our mantra going forward as we continue to trust the process as we work towards getting better.
It caused me to question if a large percentage of all basketball enthusiast are aware of and subscribe to the Turks and Caicos Islands Basketball Federation’s vision and how it fits into the organization overall strategic objective. Those of us who found the vision to be meaningful have align ourselves with the vision.
However, it does not prevent us from living in the moment and enjoying the advantages and small successes but we recognize that it is also about planning for the future. An effective vision statement clearly outlines the aspirations of any organization and what it hopes to achieve short term, medium term and long term.
The Turks and Caicos Islands U15 basketball team begun its journey several months ago by carrying out a tour of Jamaica where the team was able to participate in a number of basketball games and enjoy a degree of success in regard to the five games that they participated in.
They posted a record of 3 victories and two losses. While in Jamaica the President of the Federation learnt that Puerto Rico was chosen as the host country for the 2022 Centrobasket U15 Championship. He immediately begun to lobby the organizers for a spot if any of the qualifying countries were unable to participate in the scheduled event for whatever reason.
As faith would have it a spot became available and we were invited to be a part of this year’s Centrobasket Championship thereby realizing one of our strategic objectives sooner than expected. The invite was also historic in that the U15 is the first junior basketball team to formally represent the Turks and Caicos Islands in a formal regional FIBA basketball tournament and the second team to represent our beloved country in a FIBA regional basketball event, the 2004 men’s basketball team was the first.
We began our journey to Puerto Rico on June 16 2022. We arrived in Miami minus two team members and our President, Mr. Sydwell Glasgow who was undergoing minor surgery on the day we departed Providenciales. The 12 member contingent (10 players and 2 coaches) arrived in Puerto Rico several hours later and the remaining two players, who travel to Miami later that day, eventually made it to Puerto Rico later that night. Yep, that was the first leg of the race.
Subsequently, I attended the technical meeting the next day June 17. The technical meeting and Team Turks and Caicos first practice were conducted simultaneously. Head Coach Mervin Forbes oversaw the practice and in my capacity as Secretary-General and Team Manager I represent the team at the Technical Committee meeting.
I was required to present the list of players, coaches and other accompany members of the delegation. The passport of each member of the delegation and the official uniforms of the players and coaching staff to ensure that the relevant FIBA requirements were met.
The process begun at 2:15 pm on the aforementioned date and time. We got clearance for 9 players plus the coaching staff. Additional information was needed to clear the remaining 3 players and the last remaining evaluation was conducted at 2am the next day. All is well that ends well, the last three remaining players were cleared to compete – TCI contingent 12 players strong.
The journey continued on the 18th of June 2022 when Team TCI played Team Costa Rica which was the first game of the Centrobasket U15 Championship. In a tightly contested basketball game that was highly competitive we saw a number of lead changes throughout the four quarters of the game. Team Turks and Caicos eventually won the game 67 to 61.
Team Turks and Caicos in its second game played a strong Dominican Republic (DR) team; who came into the event ranked as the third strongest team in the event. They proved to be a handful for the Turks and Caicos as Team Turks and Caicos struggle to keep pace with the DR. Team Turks and Caicos found itself down because of a number self-inflicted wounds by virtue of multiple turnovers and them not finishing when the team had uncontested lay-ups and uncontested jump shots.
The DR won that game 100 to 46. It was obvious that Team Turks and Caicos can compete with the DR but too many mistakes and poor execution place them in an unattainable position.
In game three, we saw more of the same from Team Turks and Caicos in the game against Puerto Rico. Our defense were suspect, turnovers and missed opportunities contributed to us not keeping pace with Puerto Rico; the strongest team in the tournament. It was obvious, that we have the complimentary pieces but we need more time to work out the kinks and play together as a unit. Team Turks and Caicos lost the game 123 to 32 to the defending champions.
Next up for Team Turks and Caicos Islands was Mexico, another Latino power house who is ranked number two in this event. They are not skilled as Puerto Rico but the style of play is similar. Defensively and offensively they keep coming at you as was evident in the game played against Team Turks and Caicos. They defeated Turks and Caicos 103 to 39.
Team Turks and Caicos fifth and final game was played against Team Bahamas. This was a battle between two teams that share a similar colonial history and that was once one country. They have a history of competing against each other in the sport of basketball. Whenever they compete it is for bragging rights and the losing team is reminded by the winning team, whenever the opportunity presents itself, that when last we met on the field which country won. Team Bahamas defeated Team Turks and Caicos 79 to 56.
Team Turks and Caicos have a number of players whose outstanding individual performance during the tournament caused them to be named in the point standing and rebound standing: Dylan Morris is third in scoring with 18.3 points per game just below Puerto Rico’s Felipe Andres, the second leading scorer with 18.4 points per game. Roldjudson Lacossade (RJ) is top rebounder with highest rebounding percentage with 15.8 rebounds per game.
Team Turks and Caicos finish like we started: we played gritty, hustling, resolute basketball. Despite being undersize, having less experience then our competition and having to contend with injuries along way. Team Turks and Caicos have nothing to be a shame about – they met the giants on the field of battle who were more equipped and better prepared than they were but they held their own with just a “sling shot and a couple of stones”: (Dylan Morris, Roldjudson Lacossade (RJ), Harry Taylor, Ethan Taylor, Adin Missick, Malachi Missick, Dillion Forbes, Takeem Williams, Rezon Carmichael, T’kai Delancy, Kymani Carter and Onai Lightbourne). Historic Diamonds in the rough.
There are number of persons we need to thank because without the cooperation and support of the following individuals and business establishments the Federation would not have been able to realize this enormous task. I start by the thanking the parents of the young men that was selected to compete on the U15 basketball team.
Thanks to the principals who made arrangements for the young men to sit their exams subsequent to returning to the Turks and Caicos Islands. We take this opportunity to thank Hon. Rachel Taylor and the Hon. Otis Morris for their individual roles in ensuring that we were able to attend this prestigious event by making sure all the pieces fell into place.
We express our appreciation to the Chairman, Director and Staff of the Sports Commission for the part they played in assisting the Federation as they went beyond the call of duty to ensure that our athletes had access to the facilities and other much need assistance.
We also take this opportunity to thank our major sponsor TDMG Concordia. The company sponsor the team, the coaches and the Federation Executives uniforms. We are extremely grateful for your much needed assistance. We also take this opportunity to thank Long Bay Express for sponsoring the uniforms that was used in Jamaica and were used in Puerto Rico as our practice uniforms.
We would be remiss if we did not thank the various employees in a number of Government Departments for assisting us in crunch time. Blessings to all of you, especially the indigenous population and those living and working in the Turks and Caicos Islands who watch the games on Facebook and cheered us on.