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Butchered!

Butchered! Star guard Toni Atherley is among three Clapham basketballers joining UWI Blackbirds. (FP)

By Justin Marville | Fri, January 25, 2013 - 12:05 AM

So much for basketball's next dynasty.

Clapham can forget about doing the women’s three-peat this year after their lady Bulls split up for the upcoming season following the departure of long-serving head coach Barry Rock.

Multiple sources revealed the defending two-time champs will not have a team in this year’s competition, which starts in February, as national players Toni Atherley, Sadé Clarke and Jennifer Joseph-Hackett have all decided to suit up for the University of the West Indies’ Blackbirds.

Their decision to leave comes as part of the major fallout from Rock’s departure, which shockingly comes less than a year after the highly successful coach led Clapham to their second league crown in as many years.

Rock has not immediately returned phone calls but a source close to the veteran coach said he is taking a break from the game indefinitely.

“He said he really can’t deal with the stress right now, so he’s taking a break for this year at least,” explained the source.

“He didn’t go into the reason why but I’m positive he won’t be coaching this year because he hasn’t called practice and he hasn’t even asked the girls to meet.”

Clapham’s Third Division coach Kenny Carter reportedly offered to take up the mantle in Rock’s absence but the team members have indicated they will only play under their championship-winning coach.

Rock had previously hinted at walking away in each of the last two seasons before ultimately deciding to remain at the helm of one of the more talented sides in local women’s basketball.

But his sudden withdrawal has even more implications for the club’s future as Rock also served as Clapham’s Premier League coach for the last seven seasons.

And now there are reports on the men’s side that three of their top players will not play without Rock coaching the squad. However, Clapham are still expected to field a Premier League team as the club has since attracted a significant number of players for practice.

It is the second straight off season that the historic club is facing major upheaval after Clapham were almost forced to pull out of the league a year ago when they barely registered the minimum eight players.

Bulls actually failed to field a team for last year’s season-opening knockout competition.

The only club to have won three successive men’s league titles (1997-1999), Clapham hold the longest active streak of attendance in the Premier League having avoided demotion for 27 straight seasons.

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