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Apr 27, 2001

Semi-pro basketball tips off tonight

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The court is ready, the fans are ready and it seems that the players are all set to get back in action. Jose Sanchez has a preview of tonight’s basketball opener.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

Since the end of the 1999 season, the sounds of bouncing basketballs and cheering semi-pro fans have been absent from the Belize City Centre. Though they have been plagued with internal problems as well as a damaged court, Troy Gabb, Commissioner of the Semi Pro League, says that six teams have registered for the tournament, which starts tonight.

Troy Gabb, Commissioner, B.B.A., Semi-pro League

“The teams are Corozal Chaos, Orange Walk Music Centre, Dangriga One Love, BTL Nets, Datapro Phoenix Raiders and the University of Belize.”

Jose Sanchez

“Do you expect the same level of play that you had during the last season?”

Troy Gabb

“Definitely, I think the players are eager to get back in action. Some of them have been playing at the amateur level where their skills have been honed and sharpened and so we expect that when they return on the City Centre, their shooting percentage, their stamina is going to be at a high level.”

The amateur level has been the only outlet for players who have sat out an entire season, wondering if the league would ever get back on the court.

Troy Gabb

“During the course of 2000 we tried to get a season going but there were some difficulties in terms of administration and ownership and therefore we were not able to put off a season last year. That is behind us now and I’d like to apologise to fans for not having that season last year, but we do promise to make it up this year.”

And make it up they will, in addition to local stars, the league is allowing team owners to import two foreign players and as many Belizean Americans as they desire. And while this move to inspire fan turnout is good for semi-pro, it might break the amateur league.

Troy Gabb

“I think our advice to them earlier was to try not to use too many semi-pro players because that’s where the real issue is. They have beefed up on the amount of semi-pro players that they allow to play. Some teams are relying solely on these semi-pro players, which is really a farce, because they are an amateur tournament and they are using semi-pro players to market their league which was not a good marketing decision at that point in time. They knew the season was going to start somewhere within their tournament. Many teams have foreseen this and didn’t put semi-pro players on their roster.”

Whether fans decide to go to amateur or semi-pro games, one fact is crystal clear…Basketball is back. Reporting for News 5, Jose Sanchez.

The opening ceremonies begin at 8:30 while tonight’s game between Datapro Phoenix Raiders and Orange Walk Music Centre tips off at 9:00 at the Belize City Centre. The competition will feature the return of Darren Bovell and Claude “Too Tall” Jones.

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