Smart Belize Hurricanes Find New Shelter, Hope for Winning Ways
The 2017 National Elite Basketball League tournament began in January of this year and a total of seven teams: San Pedro Tiger Sharks, Belmopan Bandits, Dangriga Dream Ballers, Cayo Western Ballaz, Smart Belize Hurricanes, Belize City No Limits and Orange Walk Running Rebels are making the bid for the coveted championship title. The next game is this Friday at the new home of the defending champs, Smart Belize Hurricanes, where they will go face to face against Cayo Western Ballaz. News Five’s Duane Moody caught up with the team as they prepared for the game.
Duane Moody, Reporting
Smart Belize Hurricanes, a Belize City based elite basketball team has found a new ‘hurricane’ shelter at the Saint Catherine Auditorium in the Old Capital. Since the beginning of the week, the defending champ has been on the grind, preparing for its first home game —dubbed a championship affair—between the Hurricanes and Western Ballaz scheduled for Friday. For the team and its management, the pressure is on because this is its first home game.
Ian Mariano, PR Manager, Smart Belize Hurricanes
“Getting prepared so that we could provide the kind of expectation; the fulfillment that fans are looking for coming from the Hurricanes. What gives this team the championship quality is the preparation that we do; that’s a marquee thing. We ensure that our management is in tune so that our coaching staff is in tune so that our team is in tune, so that what we are defending is in tune.”
But has the category-five hurricane blown over like a little breeze? Since the start of the tournament, the Smart Belize Hurricanes have played two away games and the results have not been favorable for the team. So what happened?
“As far as the game is concerned somebody has to win and somebody has to lose, but it all depends on the product that you are putting forward. Now we do know that we are the defending champions and worldwide, regardless of the sport, a season consists of wins and losses.”
Greg Williams, Coach, Smart Belize Hurricanes
“Definitely we want to win the first home game and the mode and sentiment of each player is that we will start the winning streak starting Friday. We have played two game already; and we feel like we were in a position to win both games but it didn’t happen that way. So we feel that now, new stadium and the new mentality, the players dehn happy and they are confident.”
The stunning upsets have forced coach Greg Williams and his team to re-strategize and adjust their plays. Quality basketball and presentation are what the team is known for since its introduction to the basketball league three years ago. Notably is that the team has received a facelift, but Public Relations Manager Ian Mariano says that the team has retained eight of its players.
“Players would move from team to team and we are not exempted. Each team within the league has had some kind of changes as far as faces because we have gotten some players; pieces that we felt we needed from other teams and they have done so likewise. We have eight returning players and we have two actually that are playing with other teams. But it is not really a big issue for us because like I said this game is always about preparation, perseverance and about the heart to win.”
…and they are motivated to win. Team Captain Leroy Louriano is no stranger to the sport; he plays point guard for Smart Belize Hurricane. Collectively the team is rather young, averaging at twenty-three years, and Louriano says that they are learning new plays to take on Cayo Western Ballaz.
Leroy Louriano, Captain, Smart Belize Hurricanes
“The strategy is the same with a couple things change. We are very confident; we got we first home game. We are happy to be in our new arena, finally so the team has a good confidence; right now we confidence deh high and we really need this win so Cayo dehn better watch out. Right now we are trying to learn a couple new plays so things kinda shaky right now. Some people have difficulty coming to work out because they work and some players live outside of the city. So when we do get everybody together it is a grind session.”
“You have wah set of guys who di defend the championship and you have a new set who want win the championship. So dah like wah balance weh yo have to get with them so the one who win bring the players dehn, dah hungriness to win the championship. So yo find out that thins season kinda lee different because yo have veteran players along with some younger players and also some rookie players.”
Duane Moody for News Five.