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Still hope for local basketball

Justin Marville

Still hope for local basketball

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In this week’s edition of On The Ball, NATION basketball writer Justin Marville takes a look at the last week of local basketball.
My hearing might not be the best but I know my ears weren’t deceiving me when I heard the skills of our local players being lauded yet again.
This time it was straight from the mouth of ESPN WNBA analyst LaChina Robinson, who routinely covers the world’s best yet had nothing but rave reviews for the talent in the women’s league while watching the Knockout final.
Unless, of course, I’ve managed to misconstrue phrases such as “extremely impressed”, “very skilled”, “particularly good shooting” and “good post play” for something else.
It must be said, though, that Robinson made the comments after watching two sides loaded with national players, without even getting a glimpse of bottom feeders Challengers and Warrens.
But Robinson also joins a long line of foreign professionals – including Miami Heat players James Jones and Rafer Alston, former employee in the NBA league office Craig Skilling and coaches Sterling Wright and Brian Good – who’ve had a favourable outlook on the level of talent here.
Sure, the sport has its litany of issues, with the general lack of commitment from players and the absence of a prevailing attitude of professionalism being among them, but maybe the apocalypse really isn’t coming for local basketball as is widely thought.
So who said basketball was dead, again? Apparently not those who know best.
? Speaking of disregarded overseas-based talent evaluators, Nelson Isley is expected to come back to lead another reformation project, and yet his rumoured return isn’t exactly being treated like the second coming of the saviour.
You’d think the sport is wanting for a FIBA expert, especially one that already has ties to the country after leading Barbados to its last regional success as technical director in 2000. However, ole Nellie appears to have rubbed some people the wrong way during his first stint, as successful as it was, so I don’t think he should quite expect the whole arms wide open routine.
It’s funny, though, because from everyone I have spoken to it seems that Isley’s basketball expertise and technical knowledge are like nothing ever experienced in this country.
And it’s not like his track record doesn’t speak for itself, as the ultramarine and gold hasn’t tasted success since the American’s departure while Isley has gone on to turn around the fortunes of other nations.
But whatever he brought with him to Bim, it apparently didn’t sit well with a certain sector of the coaching and playing fraternity, even if it must be said that no member of administration has ever spoken an ill word of the renowned FIBA expert.
Maybe that displeasure is a point worth noting for this administration. Or maybe Barbados’ basketball is not in any position to start rejecting much needed assistance.
• I know there’s the old adage about going out on top, but, boy, has Terry Inniss given a new meaning to quitting while you’re ahead!
Just moments after leading St John’s to their only top flight title of any kind, the Sonics coach was already implying that his team’s first cup was his last game.
This is not to question his motives, or to suggest Inniss’ time in Gall Hill might not be up, but I thought that after Sonics’ four years of coming up short in the league, this knockout title might lead Inniss to believe that next year would be the year St John’s finally got over the hump.
I was also the one who suggested just two weeks ago that he shouldn’t return, though, so my opinion really needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
But I also did kind of foresee that it would be Inniss’ last game on the bench, so maybe there is a future for me in this prediction business after all.