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Jul 21, 2015

Hoop Dreams Belize Takes Copa Cancun Tournament by Storm

A team of young students won big at a basketball tournament in Cancun, Mexico. Between the fifteenth and the twentieth, the team played and won all six games in the Copa Cancun Tournament. In the final match, Team Belize held of Mexico’s National U-19 Champions, Veracruz Marlins, to walk away with the championship. The Hoop Dreams Belize team is made up of majority Belize City students at the secondary and tertiary level, most of whom have been playing basketball together for eight years. The team held a press conference today to share their victory. Andrea Polanco was there.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Ten players of the U-19 selection of Hoop Dreams Belize walked away with the Copa Cancun 2015 Cup, a basketball competition that sees the participation of some of Mexico’s best under 19 basket ballers. For coach, the victory is sweet.


Brads Neal

Brads Neal, Head Coach

“We have four days of very good, high level basketball. The team itself played six games; one of Thursday, one on Friday and two Saturday and two Sunday and fortunately, we want to tell you guys that we won all the games and we brought the cup back home to Belize.”



“Is this the biggest prize?”


Brads Neal

“No doubt about it. This was a prize that was hard fought for. One of the reasons we entered tournament is because Mexico has a national programme and we felt that we had to contest against the best in this region.”


Sydney Bradley

And to beat some of the region’s best; we had to put forward some of Belize’s best.


Sydney Bradley, Team Member

“I have been around Coach Brads from I was like eleven years old, me and my friend Andrew Vasquez and Jordan. The experience in Cancun is unbelievable. I don’t want to brag but no team came close, like points wise that they almost beat us. It was a blown out game; like eighty odd to thirty odd. Nothing comes close.”


Jahson Phillips

Jahson Phillips, Team Member

“I am the baby of the bunch. I started last year and we travelled with the same team to Cancun and we didn’t win but we came really close. The main part for me coming on this trip is like a learning experience, to learn from the other guys. In a couple years time, me and Nick could bring home a next one, hopefully. It was an amazing experience and I learnt a lot from these guys.”


Andrea Polanco

“How does this win feel for you, for your career because you are pretty new to the team?”


Jahson Phillips

“It feels really good.”


To win the tournament Cup, the team coupled natural talent with hard work, lots of it, from the gym to the court.


Brads Neal

“All ten players that travelled, I think, was humongous. We saw a lot of development. We saw lot of years of hard work, the training. These guys were going to school, taking finals and train at the same time to prepare for this tournament. In the evening time after school is over, we would have a two hour training sessions two to three times a week and on weekends, we would travel and go play in other competitions. The week before we travelled we went to Cayo and we played against the Western Ballers team and they beat us by one point.”


Shaquille Crawford

And for these boys, playing ball on the court has helped to build character and positively impact their lives. Yes, they have managed to balance school, a social life and basketball.


Shaquille Crawford, Team Member

“The experience with them is unbelievable, mien. It’s unbelievable, Coach Brads right here is like a dad to me because he pushed me through school when I am down and he makes me see the importance of education connecting with basketball.”


Andrew Vasquez

Andrew Vasquez, Captain

“Currently, I am in my second year at sixth form and I have maintained four point zero GPA throughout my entire academic life.”


Keyvon Evans, Team Members

“Mr. Brads has changed me into a different person because I was a short tempered person that would just do anything without thinking the reaction that will come after it.”


And to ensure that other young students get these opportunities, Hoop Dreams Belize says there must be more support for the sport. And this big win for the team seeks to push other.


Harold Grant

Harold Grant, Coach

“We go out there, we looking no way but we bring everything back whenever Belize play. All the Mexicans deh watching us play. Belize supposed to see the kids play. You must start support the kids. Come out and watch the kids play.”


Brads Neal

“You are going to see these kids coming or next year when the tournament is going to be held. They are going to be a part of the elite program. But what they will bring is structured organized basketball. How do you train to prepare for the tournament? What do we do when we run play sets. All these kids can play sets execute the position one through five. Because we instill that in them.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Andrea Polanco.


Hoop Dreams Belize has been to the Copa Cancun before. They walked away with the title in its inaugural year two years ago, and last year the team didn’t put out a full squad to play in the competition.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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