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Local fraternity buoyed by Centrobasket heroics - Jun 27, 2012


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Sam Vincent
Jamaica Basketball Association (JaBA) President Ajani Williams said the country's historic third-place finish at the Centrobasket tournament and its unprecedented qualification to the Tournament of the Americas for North, South and Central American teams have ushered in a new era for Jamaica.

Williams, who was speaking to the Jamaica Observer on the team's arrival at the Norman Manley International Airport yesterday, said this achievement has propelled Jamaica's basketball onto the global stage, and with the right resources they can make next year's World Championship.

WILLIAMS... I think were definitely on our way

"It may not happen immediately, but through time like our track and field we will, as this is the beginning of our phase and I think we are definitely on our way," he said.

"... The right people and are there; the right coaches; the right mentality, and the players are committed to advancing in this new frontier," he argued.

The JABA boss said it took sacrifice to achieve their objective. He was especially grateful to Tina Matalon and KFC for their ardent support of the programme.

"We knew it would take great sacrifice, but we do have some cash and great support from KFC... plus we got some really strong backing from the SDF (Sports Development Foundation), the sports minister and Grand Palladium (hotel)," he added.

Williams lauded the team and made special mention of Samardo Samuels (206-F/C-89, college: Louisville), Jerome Jordon, Weyimi Rose and coach Sam Vincent .

"Samardo put on an all-star performance, Jerome was developing into himself, while Weyimi was unbelievable...

"And Coach Sam Vincent threw out so many plays that nobody else had seen and came out with totally new plays on the day. So the coaching staff was really great in their application, preparation and sacrifice," he beamed.

Williams said he will use this accomplishment to spearhead the nation's new basketball initiative.

"This is huge. I was getting tired but they have given me a lot more energy now and I'm going to create a pretty phenomenal marketing team," he pledged.

"We have a new team brand, a new team name and we intend to hit the entire diaspora... but we needed this moment to activate it," he added.

Williams believes that with their newfound fame, they will attract other players with Jamaican heritage and even convince Roy Hibbert Jr to reconsider switching allegiance from the United States.

"I think we can and should advance to the World Championship... but we have to recruit the best players and get them to come within that same year," he said.

"If we're going to make a real run at the World Championships, then Roy Hibbert is ultimately important... If we don't have him we can do without him, although it would be harder, but we'll definitely need Ryan Reid, especially for those rebounds," he noted.

Meanwhile, veteran Kimani Friend, who played only for limited periods in the tournament because of a broken nose, said the feat was overwhelming and called it "a very big accomplishment for Jamaica's basketball".

"This should now propel us to get more sponsorship and more people to support the team," he said.

"We made history... and I think this is one of the achievements for our 50th Anniversary," he added.

He pointed out that the success was achieved in a very short time and the local basketball administration should be commended.

"This has been achieved in a short amount of time with the new players, Ajani, and Coach Vincent... so in about three, four years we've really made a big achievement and I hope after this we continue to move forward," said Friend.

He added that the team will be stronger and more experienced next year and will attract newcomers.

"The fact that we made the Tournament of Americas means more guys will be coming out of the NBA or Europe with Jamaican parentage and they will want to use this as an excuse to play for Jamaica, and because of this, we will be very strong," he said.
Courtesy of: http://www.caribbeanbasketball.com
  




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