Guardian.bz – The Belize National Basketball Team did not qualify for the next tournament on the road to London 2012. But is this reason to hang heads? This is not the first time that Belize will not make it to the Olympics in the discipline of basketball. However, this is the first time that we know we can do it, and I believe that fact alone is reason to celebrate.
Belize played its first game against Trinidad and Tobago on Monday July 5 and defeated them by the score 80 to 71. Milt Palacio and Alex Carcamo top scored for Belize with 16 points each, while Richard Troyer added 14 points. The second game was against Mexico, which is a team we definitely can beat and some would argue that we had already beaten them in their country a year ago. The team came out flat in a game that everyone expected them to be fired up for. Going in at the half, Belize was lucky to be down by just one point after a couple of sloppy periods. Unfortunately for Belize, our struggles continued in the second half and it was clear that the team was having an off day. On that day team Belize might not have been able to beat one of our Belize District teams in the Balling for Life Tournament. In the end, Mexico shot 45% from the field while shooting accuracy was 35% and the final score was 85 to 63.
Belize’s Wednesday game against Cuba was postponed to Thursday due to concerns about the court condition. After the loss to Mexico, the team understood that if they had any hope of qualifying for the playoffs and continue their journey to London they must defeat Cuba. That, of course, was a daunting task. Cuba defeated Mexico by 20 points and it is a very good team. On Thursday our players laced up their sneakers and went to work. By the end of the half, Belize had taken a nine point lead. The relentless pressure continued in the second and at the end of the game the score 78 to 94 in favour of Belize. Team Belize never seemed to be in trouble at any point and defeated the Cubans easily.
Alex Carcamo had his best game and led all scorers with 23 points while Richard Troyer had 21 and Milton Palacio had numerous assists. That game was certainly an eye opener for the rest of the teams in the tournament. The consensus was that if Belize played the way they did against Cuba they can beat any team. Belize had a rest day on Friday and went up against one of the favourites, Puerto Rico, on Saturday.
Puerto Rico brought their A game and were definitely not taking anything for granted; especially after losing to Trinidad and Tobago and seeing the whipping Belize placed upon Cuba. Belize turned in a valiant effort, but to beat Puerto Rico, they would have had to bring their A game as well. Puerto Rico has three current NBA players and a much bigger team than Belize. In the end, they had to dig deep to survive a fourth quarter comeback by Belize which tied the game. However, they managed to hold on and won the game by a score 96 to 88.
The loss knocked Belize out of the tournament after points differential rule allowed Cuba to be the second seeded team in Belize’s bracket. Cuba, Belize and Mexico finished the first round with a two and two record. The tiebreaker was point differential throughout the tournament. When that was used, Belize finished fourth in our bracket with Cuba and the 3 and 1 Puerto Rico moving on to the Semi Finals. In the end, Cuba played Panama for the bronze medal and Puerto Rico played Venezuela for the gold. Puerto Rico defeated the Dominican Republic 89-80 to win Gold and Panama defeated Cuba 75 to 74 to win the bronze medal in the 2010 Centrobasket Championship. Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic qualified for the 2011 Pan-American Games. The four finalists qualified for the 2011 FIBA-Americas Championship.
It was a bittersweet ending for team Belize. The team gained the much deserved respect of its opponents and proved that it can beat any team. However, at the end of the tournament, Belize placed only seventh in Centrobasket 2010. And now only questions remain. What would team Belize have done if the Federation paid a couple more thousand dollars for Marlon Garnett’s career earnings insurance? Would the team have been better and more inspired with Kevin Seroki as Head Coach? Was that the last time Milt Palacio, Keenan Jourdan and Alex Carcamo would represent the Jewel? And of course- What is the outlook for the future of the Belize National Basketball Team?