Big two unavailable
Barbados has a big problem with its big men. Basketball’s senior men’s squad will have to search for a completely new frontcourt now after starters Akeem Marsh and John Jones both announced their unavailability for next month’s FIBA Caribbean Cup in Suriname.
Barbados Amateur Basketball Association president and chairman of national selectors Francis Williams confirmed the news yesterday ahead of tomorrow’s start to the first trials session.
“We always knew this was a possibility with Akeem based on the length of his contract and when he left for Australia but we’re just now finding out about John like anyone else so we haven’t quite sat down to find out the best way to address that particular situation,” said Williams.
“It’s still very early in the process and they could’ve picked up an injury at trials anyway, so we have to make do with the best of what we have because we should have enough big men at trials to handle these types of situations.
“Obviously you want to go with your most talented players but we have to adjust and adjust quickly.
“This is still fresh and the tournament is still some weeks ago and I can tell you we will always have a team regardless of the situation,” he added.
Jones dropped hints about his pending unavailability all season long before finally revealing his decision via a lengthy Facebook post earlythis week.
But Marsh’s absence was even less surprising as he was always going to be a big question mark after signing a seven-month contract to play with professional club Gold Coast Rollers in the Queensland Basketball League back in March.
As such the squad seemingly has a lot of cover at Marsh’s position, with Williams inviting the likes of reigning Most Offensive and Best Defensive Player Jamar “Spanner” Headley, American-born UWI student Granville Gittens, Ricardo Jemmott, Nicholai Williams, Jamai Puckerin and Romaine Lovell to trials.
And they’re just a small part of a very large group that already includes national holders Kregg Jones, Charles Vanderpool and Junior Moore.
Yet none of the players will be expected to replace Marsh’s production individually after the prolific six-foot-nine forward proved to be among the region’s best while finishing the 2015 Caribbean men’s tournament ninth in points (15 ppg) and secondin rebounds (12.3 rpg).
It was no flash in the pan either considering Marsh also led Barbados in scoring (15.8 ppg), rebounding (6.0 rpg) and block shots (0.8 bpg) at the 2014 edition.
Barbados may still have an ace up their sleeve in the long-awaited return of George Haynes, even if the overseas-based forward hasn’t played competitively for the national team in nine years.
“We would have been in contact with George for a long time and it was just a situation where he couldn’t get the time to come back home and play for us that prevented him from not playing in 2014 and 2015,” explained Williams.
“But yes, I guess Marsh’s situation would’ve been in the back of our minds when we continued to reach out to George but he was always in our plans all along.” (JM)