Women’s b/ball team named for Antigua tour – beats male team in warm–up game
Kaieteur News – January 15, 2008
By Edison Jefford
Guyana’s national women basketball team will leave tomorrow morning for Antigua with all the confidence they need to succeed on their historic and inaugural trip to the Gillian Brazier Basketball Shoot–Out.
The Guyana Women’s Basketball Association (GWBA) headed by former national senior player, Michaela Burnette has made significant strides toward developing the women’s version of the sport since its launch last October.
The association got a reward for its hard work and investment into the team Sunday night when the composition completely outplayed Pepsi Sonics’ Division Three male team at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall.
It was an acute display of both offence and defence that sent a warning to the Antiguan teams scheduled to play at the Gillian Brazier tournament. From all indications, Burnette was satisfied with the team’s performance.
The GWBA leader had expressed concern last year over the competitiveness of the team but the players settled that issue Sunday night when they demolished Sonics’ third division male team 57–51.
The transformation of the players and the women’s version of the sport as a whole, were apparent given the appalling performances of the past, which almost placed female basketball on the brink of extinction in Guyana.
It’s too early to sound the trumpet of revival but Nichola Jacobs with her low–post plays and Nyota Peters with her sheer power are leading a group of women that will be a force to reckon with within another year.
The table officials Sunday night were so stricken by the women’s team performance that they literally forgot that they had to score the game. At the end of the battle, statistics were not available because none was recorded.
But players like guards: Natasha Alder and Sonia Rodney, clearly stood out for the team, which boosted Peters and Jacobs’ game at the bottom. The composition is the best to be assembled in quite some time.
The women were making ‘blocks’, hitting three–point jumpers, making steals, finishing fast–breaks, trapping the opposition on defence, setting zones and most notable, staying their allotted time owing to good fitness.
Those were elements that were absent from the efforts of women’s basketball in the not so distant past but have strikingly returned after much work put in by coaches Abdullah ‘Zico’ Hamid and Mark Agard.
When Burnette formed the GWBA last year, she immediately outlined a plan to recruit and train women from all across Guyana. As a result, the association went on a nation–wide excursion seeking the best potential.
They started with Linden before touching down at Kwakwani, New Amsterdam among other locations. In each destination, the GWBA sought to establish its presence in the midst of both senior and junior basketball players.
The best of the lot were finally placed on a shortlist of 18 players for the Antigua tour and encamped for close to nine weeks where they underwent rigorous training on control fundamentals and executing game plans.
The results have been phenomenal and hopefully the team’s confidence and good form could spill over into returning glory to Guyana in Antigua; at least that will be the team’s real measure of improvement and success.
The feature game Sunday night between Ravens and Pacesetters’ Division One male teams reached a stalemate at 5:16 minutes into the second quarter when a controversial referee decision forced Ravens off the court.
Dissatisfied with a foul call issued by referee Oswald Benjamin, Ravens’ coach Lugard Mohan reacted from the sideline and was issued a technical foul; he continued to react and was issued another ‘technical’.
According to the rules of the game, two technical fouls ‘throws’ the offender out of the game. But Ravens were not prepared to accept the charge and as Mohan packed up to leave, the entire team did the same.
Guyana has only one locally–active International Basketball Federation (FIBA) referee in Sherwin Henry. The issue of officiating has occupied much debate of recent begging the local federation to seriously address the subject.
The Guyana Amateur Basketball Federation will pronounce on the matter since Benjamin has lodged a formal complaint with the body. Meanwhile, the GWBA named a final squad comprising 12 players that will travel to Antigua tomorrow.
The full squad reads: Natasha Alder, Shenary Benn, Siana Forte, Sabola Gray, Nichola Jacobs, Timike Joseph, Leona Kyte, Nyota Peters, Latoya Rodney, Sonia Rodney, Shakelia Sampson and Michelle Subrattie.
Burnette will perform duties as manager/player while Agard and Hamid will function as coaches. The team is expected to return to Guyana on Monday.