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Marsh could boost team

JUSTIN MARVILLE, [email protected]

Marsh could boost team

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Akeem Marsh’s pain is now Barbados’ gain. The men’s senior side may yet get its star big man, and not a moment too soon, as the prolific national forward has been released from Australian basketball club Gold Coast Rollers before next week’s start to the FIBA AmeriCup 2021 in Suriname.

Chairman of selectors Francis Williams denied comment, but a source close to the situation confirmed the news after revealing that Marsh is expected to return home tomorrow.

The development couldn’t have been any more timely considering Barbados seem set to name their final 12-man roster sometime today before leaving for South America on Friday.

It was the biggest news coming out of Saturday’s final warm-up game, where the 16-man squad started slowly before overseas-based pro Andre Lockhart predictably led an 83-43 blowout of a select Premier League team.

Now the national side is expected to get considerably better with Marsh’s return, as the 31-year-old big man is widely considered to be the country’s best player after leading Barbados in points, rebounds and blocks at the last two regional tournaments.

He even proved to be among the Caribbean’s elite at the 2015 edition while finishing in the competition’s top ten in scoring (15 ppg) and rebounding (12.3 rpg).

And Marsh was similarly productive Down Under too, averaging 9.2 points on better than 60 percent shooting with 7.6 boards off the bench during the Rollers’ first five games of the Queensland Basketball League.

But the gifted post player was seemingly made a casualty of Gold Coast’s four-game losing streak after playing just one minute over the final three games while failing to even get on the court for two of those contests.

Barbados certainly missed Marsh though, having surprisingly lost a recent three-game series against a young, visiting Guyana side that hammered the hosts in the paint and on the offensive glass.

Marsh’s absence was only compounded by the unavailability of fellow overseas-based pros John Jones and Kregg Jones, who left the national side extremely undersized and undermanned up front.

At one point seasoned veterans Charles Vanderpool and Junior Moore were the only post players at national practice who had any experience playing at a regional tournament.

However, six-foot-nine forward/centre George Haynes has since returned home from Oklahoma to provide the team with some much needed size and length.

And management is still holding out hope on Kregg Jones coming back in time from a basketball camp in California before learning of Marsh’s availability on Saturday night.

Barbados are pooled in Group B with Montserrat, Bermuda, Haiti and Antigua and Barbuda and open tournament play on June 25. (JM)