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Apr 10, 2018

Belize U-15 National Basketball Team Heads to COCABA

Belize’s Under-fifteen Boys National Basketball Team left the country today en route to El Salvador to play in the COCABA championships. The contingent of twelve players and three officials will be in El Salvador for the next five days of competition and return on Monday. The team will play their first game on Wednesday against Panama. Today, we spoke with the coach Matthew Smiling and two of the players of the national team before they departed:

 

Matthew Smiling, Coach, Junior Men’s Basketball National Team

“We have been preparing for the last month. We did a certain amount of preparation. We just have to see what happens. But the competition is very stiff; Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador – these will be our challenging games.”

 

Matthew Smiling

Andrea Polanco

“How many games are the boys expected to play – granted they advance?”

 

Matthew Smiling

“Five games total. The first three, because we are divided in two groups, we are seated with Panama, Nicaragua and Guatemala. We play Panama tomorrow at eleven.  We have players from Dangriga, Benque, San Ignacio, Corozal, Orange Walk and we even have a player from Orlando and then we have five more players from Belize City.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Are these players experienced in terms of playing regionally – or outside the borders of Belize?”

 

Matthew Smiling

“Yes. We have five members from Pulu Lightburn Future Shock Team – they are successful in the regional tournaments. We have the kid from Florida who is kinda experienced and the rest are new.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“What are your expectations going into this competition – championships?”

 

Matthew Smiling

“We always expect to win but, then again, we have to be real. Like I said Panama, Salvador and Costa Rica are the challenging games. We expect to win the other teams but those are the ones that will give us the real game.”

 

Izid Lopez

Izid Lopez, Team Member, Belize U-15 Boys National Team

“I hope fi average more than ten points every game and win our games so that we could come home with the gold medals.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“How did you prepare for it – personally?”

 

Izid Lopez

“Practice every day. Shoot every day. Shoot. Shoot. Shoot. So that when you get on the court you are not nervous.”

 

Kimo Jolly

Kimo Jolly, Team Member, Belize U-15 Boys National Team

“I think we have a chance to win. I hope we do. I hope we play strong. I think it is a good experience for all the young players to go out of the country and keeps them away from bad stuff, and keeps them in sports and on good terms with everyone.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“What do you think will help this team to maybe come back with a medal?”

 

Kimo Jolly

“Just to play as team; play smart; play strong; nuh fight with each other; be confident and trust that you have what it takes to win.”

 

Coach Smiling says the U-fifteen team is in need of financial assistance and if you would like to help, you can contact President of the Basketball Federation Paul Thompson.

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