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Nov 11, 2014

U-16 Ballers off to Panama for COCABA Basketball Championship

The under-sixteen national basketball team left the country on Monday en route to Panama for the 2014 COCABA U-sixteen Basketball Championship Tournament slated to start on Wednesday. The delegation consisting of Coaches Matthew Smiling, Fred Gabourel and Linbergh Graham and the twelve-member team will see the young athletes compete against the six Central American Countries and Mexico. The tournament is divided into two groups. Group A consists of El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Nicaragua and Group B that includes Belize, Panama, Costa Rica and Honduras. The top two teams from each group advances to the semifinal round and determines the qualifying countries for the Centro Basket U-seventeen Tournament to be held in 2015. Prior to their departure, Coach Smiling told News Five that the team has been training for several months and are ready to get on the international court.


Matthew Smiling, Coach, National U-16 Basketball Team

Matthew Smiling

“It will be a five day tournament that starts on Wednesday until Sunday. We don’t know exactly who we are going to play yet; until the technical meeting is held, then we will know which group we are in and who we are playing. We’ve been preparing for the past three months, from August until now, every weekend in San Ignacio. Much thanks to the Sacred Heart for the use of the gym. The people at Sacred Heart also Mister Karim Juan and Miss Juanita; thanks for supporting us. Yes we have been preparing for the past three months like I said and I think we have a pretty good chance of bringing home the gold. In the past tournaments, the U-fifteen or U-sixteen, the only team we haven’t beaten is Mexico but we have fared off very good enough with everybody else. The players…We have Belizean from out of L.A., Jared Chattam; we have from Punta Gorda, Darnell Bodden and Delvin Centino. We have from Dangriga Nayib Casimiro, Donnell Arzu and Martin Nolberto. From San Ignacio we have Chevon Boncheren. From Belize City we have Holin Suazo, Antwone Rivero, Nicholas Phillips, Jamal Smiling, Keron Salazar…those are the twelve that are going. They are all new for this age and also with the addition of a Belizean player from out of L.A. we expect to do good. We expect to qualify for the next round.”


Team Belize’s first matchup will be against Costa Rica on Wednesday at four-thirty p.m. On Thursday, the U-sixteen players will face Panama at seven p.m. and on Friday, they go head to head against the team from Honduras at five p.m.

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