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Jan 18, 2018

Opening of the 2018 NEBL Season: Belize Hurricanes Prepare

This Friday night at the Belize Elementary School Gymnasium in Belize City, the National Elite Basketball League semi-pro season officially opens with a matchup between Smart Belize Hurricanes and the Verdes Basketball Club, formerly the Cayo Western Ballaz. It’s a home game for the Hurricanes, who say they plan to bring the win back to the city. News Five’s Duane Moody caught up with the team as they prepared for the match; tipoff at nine p.m.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

A re-energized Smart Belize Hurricanes returns to its home at the BES Gymnasium for the 2018 NEBL Semi-Pro Season. Top players from different parts of the country have been brought together by its management to create a formidable team which they believe will secure a win and bring the basketball trophy and bragging rights back to the City. Team Captain is Belmopan resident, Akeem Watters, who is no stranger to the sport as a technically sound basketballer; he plays backup point guard, shooting guard and small forward.

 

Akeem Watters

Akeem Watters, Team Captain, Smart Belize Hurricanes

“I live for all the pressure and stuff like that; I am a person that always work hard and look forward for all challenges. So when I come to work out, I try lead by setting the pace, going hard every night and trying to up the intensity of the workout.”

 

This year, the team has imported international basketball player, Tyson Reynolds, who is playing center position for the Smart Belize Hurricanes. With months of preparations under their belts, Reynolds spoke about what he is bringing to the team.

 

Tyson Reynolds

Tyson Reynolds, Center Position, Smart Belize Hurricanes

“The experience that I am bringing is the whole bunch of physicality, of course athleticism. We are running team and that’s also a part of my game; I like to run with our guards and also to wear and tear the other big men down. So the best thing I would say is for the most part I bring a versatile type of play which many haven’t seen before just yet.”

 

But like all other teams, the athletes are working men or students, who have developed a passion for the sport. And there are a lot of logistics that go into the scheduling of practices and transportation to and from matches for players and fans during the season. That’s where Emerson Baptist comes in as Vice President of Basketball Operations for the team.

 

Emerson Baptist

Emerson Baptist, Vice President, Basketball Operations, Smart Belize Hurricanes

“It entails scheduling practices, venues, different workouts; basketball workouts, we have track workouts at Marion Jones…physical workout in terms of running.”

 

Duane Moody

“So it is ensuring that the team is in top shape?”

 

Emerson Baptist

“Yes and also we some of the guys that do weight training at the gym. It takes a lot of preparation to get ready for a season and what I like about this team is that everybody is onboard and committed to putting in the work.”

 

Gilbert Gordon, C.E.O., Smart Belize Hurricanes

“From the onset of the last season what we have done is that in the offseason, we have put together a team. The general manager, Mister Paul Flowers, we have visited the player and talked to them, try to get them contracted for this upcoming season and personally we believe that we have put together a start studded team—a team that will be able to compete for the 2018 NEBL championship.”

 

…and that commitment is what Coach Jamel Wagner says will separate the team from the rest.

 

Jamel Wagner

Jamel Wagner, Coach, Smart Belize Hurricanes

“The guys have been in camp from early December. We were fortunate to have a good roster selected from mid-November with a good lineup of solid players from the city. One thing we have is our import is in early and ready to work and the guys are excited to get into the season. Our strategy is to play defense all the way. So defense and turn defense into offense. So we are going to go up and down the court and use the advantages of our good guys.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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