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Jan 25, 2019

Meet the Belize City Defenders

Week two of the National Elite Basketball League goes down tonight at the Civic Centre in Belize City. Last year’s finalist, Belize City Defenders, takes on the Belmopan Bandits in its second game of the season. The Belize City Defenders have their eyes set on the championship trophy and returned for redemption. With a strong core, and two international athletes added to the team, they are ready for the competition. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

The 2018 NEBL Champions was right at their fingertips when they lost in the finals to rival city team Belize Hurricanes, but this year, the Belize City Defenders are back for revenge. Like all the other teams, the Defenders have strengthened its core by getting young and bigger athletes. The new composition, says General Manager Jacob Leslie, is great for a win.

 

Jacob Leslie

Jacob Leslie, General Manager, Belize City Defenders

“We had two strategies here; we wanted to get younger and bigger. The team was slim and small in shape and size and it didn’t play to our advantage and we were old, so in the end, we got injured and we were slower than the other teams. So this year, we wanted to get bigger and younger. We also made sure that we had the best players that represented the city in our opinion and made sure the attitude that they had was one that fit our organization and represented our brand well. We also brought in another player, our Belizean living abroad; it’s the first time that he will be debuting in the game Friday. So it is an excitement for the team that we want to bring.”

 

Returning to the team this year is 2018’s MVP Nigel Jones. Looking for redemption.

 

Nigel Jones

Nigel Jones, Small Forward, Belize City Defenders

“I left a pretty bad taste in my mouth to go out the way we did last year. But sometimes it takes losing things to actually make you understand what it takes to earn something. Last year was a learning lesson for us. We came back this year; I feel that we added better pieces around as a whole. We have a coaching staff now that they actually listen. And I think now, we might have took the steps as far as coming back, but I think this year I feel is the year for us.”

 

The overall calibre of players in the league has increased. But with a new head coach, is the Belize Defenders ready for the tournament? The team has been preparing for months, having been in the gym and on the courts practicing. They too have had a productive off season. Marlon Middleton says they are looking for the championship trophy and nothing else.

 

Marlon Middleton

Marlon Middleton, Head Coach, Belize City Defenders

“I love defence; I love defence. When it comes to basketball, I think defence brings easy offense. The thing is last year; I would say the team had a weak bench. This year, we are fifteen men deep. Anyone of my fifteen players I could call and send to another team and they will be a starting player.”

 

So what’s the strategy going into the upcoming game, having lost their first matchup last Friday to Cayo Verdes?

 

Nigel Jones

“The strategy…we have to play hard every night. We cannot afford to come out and let somebody outplay us. That is the mantra. We have to come out and punch everybody in the mouth first before we get hit. And the other thing we want to be more aggressive this year. Last year, I feel a lotta teams, they used it as where they were doing the beating to us. And this year now, we’ve beefed up a little in the front core so I feel we will be the team that gets to beat up on guys a little bit this year.”

 

Darwin “Puppy” Leslie

Darwin “Puppy” Leslie, Team Captain, Belize City Defenders

“After the first game, we realise that we have some work to do, but the good thing is we’ve spoken about it and worked it out and our only goal is a championship. Our strategy has always been play physical. We are a physical team and our strategy is always to push the referee to make calls.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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