Winning ‘the only option’
Don’t tell that to Nigel Lloyd.
The man who did nothing but win as both a player and coach expects his young team to do just that at the Caribbean Basketball Confederation Championships, having said he envisages the men’s squad reaching the July 5 title game in Tortola.
The newly-returned head coach expressed the lofty expectation at a handover of gear to both the men’s and women’s national sides at the Co-operators General Insurance headquarters ahead of tomorrow’s [Tuesday’s] start to the regional competition.
“My expectation is always to win every game and that’s just simply how I do it [so] I would like to get to the final as this team is built for that based on what I have seen,” said the former pro player and one-time national captain.
“I know that we’re carrying some young guys and that it will be their first time at this level, but hopefully the guys with experience will help out and also my experience of winning at this level will help.
“I know it’s also going to be a big challenge for us because for one I don’t know the level that we’re going to play against, but I know that it has gone further. But I also know the guys I have now they can take us to the highest level possible because the stuff I would’ve done with them I wouldn’t have done with my other teams,” he added.
It’s quite a huge expectation for a team expected to be in rebuilding mode considering just two players (Jeremy Gill, Andre Lockhart) on the 12-man roster enter the championships with the experience of more than one regional tournament.
Recent history isn’t on their side either, as the ultramarine and gold have registered a fifth and two sixth-place finishes at the last three championships since Lloyd last coached the team to a historic showing at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
And the draw has done Barbados no favours, with the men opening an ultra-competitive Group B against long-time rivals United States Virgin Islands (USVI) tomorrow, before facing hosts British Virgin Islands (BVI), backed by a boisterous home crowd.
“The good thing about that is we’re going to watch them the first night and I’m pretty sure that crowd is coming to fire them up so we’ll know what to expect,” said Lloyd about playing BVI in Wednesday night’s capper.
“If we had them the first game up then I would’ve been worried about that because the guys wouldn’t know the level it will be at.
“So it’s going to be about our mental toughness playing in a hostile environment but I still have expectations of getting to the final. We’ll be fine it’s just a matter of coming to play basketball,” he added.
Barbados left for Tortola yesterday and open tournament play against USVI tomorrow at 6:45 p.m. before closing out group play against Guyana on Thursday at 4:15 p.m.
The top two teams from Group A and B advance to the semi-finals before the winners of those two games face off in the July 5 final.
• The NATION’s basketball correspondent Justin Marville will be at courtside in Tortola to follow the fortunes of the national men’s team and provide daily reports for our print and online readers.