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Jul 2, 2004

5 teams compete in Semi-Pro Basketball

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The perennial last-ditch effort to establish a semi-pro basketball league has once again proven successful. And while the female fans are busy doing their hair-nails-clothes thing, News 5′s Janelle Chanona checked out the calibre of the competition.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting

With little fanfare, but high expectations, tonight Semi-Pro basketball action will take to the hardwood at the Belize City Centre.

This year five teams will compete for the championship, hailing from Corozal, Orange Walk, Belmopan, and two from Belize City: the B.T.L. Nets and the Kruzzaz.

According to operations manager Nelly Trench, the biggest change on the court for the 2004 season will be the absence of foreign players on the rosters.

Nelly Trench, Operations Manager, Semi-Pro

?The foreign players became very costly to some of the sponsors and so as a result of that, they were chasing away some of the sponsors. However, the objective of the Belize Basketball Association is to promote our Belizean players at the semi-pro level. This is the highest level of basketball playing, so as a result of that to promote our players, we believe that we need to get our Belizeans locally here more involved in the tournament. So in order to keep with our objective, that is the reason why we focus only on our local players.?

Trench says league play might be a little late this year, but the games will be worth the wait.

Nelly Trench

?We found that starting in the summer, it gave the Belizeans who were studying at universities abroad an opportunity to participate in our tournament. As a result of that we are practically three weeks behind our official schedule, but that will not create any problem in completing the tournament this year. We have players who over the next two to three years will move away from the tournament, and so we as the semi-pro, if we want to move for the next ten, fifteen, to twenty years then we need to grow. And so we have to start from now and all our players that we have that are participating are very, very competitive.?

And while there will be fresh faces competing for glory this year, most of the big names in Belizean basketball: Keith Acosta, A.C. Augustine, Darrel Bovell, and Vince Estrada are all wearing B.T.L. Nets jerseys this year, giving the squad an extra bounce of confidence.

Darren Bovell, B.T.L. Nets

?At first it was kind of difficult dealing with all the egos and everything. But game night tomorrow, I think we should have a very good game tomorrow and give something to the public that they would like to come out and see again.?

Janelle Chanona

?You all will be using any unique strategies on the court??

Darren Bovell

?Well we have been practicing mainly defence, because like I said, the core of the team that we have, we are very talented offensive-wise. So we just have to work hard in defence, then the other game will be very easy.?

But the other ?ballers? aren?t worried. According to Kruzzaz Head Coach, Matthew Smiling, his winning strategy is to sign young players like Ty Bradley, Norman Humes, and Leon Williams to join forces with semi-pro veterans Kevin Siroki and Kirk Smith, not to big money, but a commitment to the sport.

Matthew Smiling, Kruzzaz Head Coach

?We had a meeting before and I explained everything to them that the money that we have to work with is not really a semi-pro budget; and if you all agree now then we go forward, but if not then we just scrap the idea. We had that meeting last Sunday and so we only had, as managers, four days really into acting, in to getting the management part of the team going. But as the physical part of it we have been practicing for the past month, so we have a team that will contend on Friday night.?

Contend and dominate, thanks to a simple plan of attack.

Matthew Smiling

?It?s always a good strategy to have what we in basketball call a general on the court. Kevin is our general on the court and also we have Kirk Smith; those are the only two legitimate semi-pro players that we have; all others are young players itching to play for one and very athletic. So, we feel like we are in a pretty good position. We have a big man and we also have our general. We are going to fit them with these young players who are very energetic, very athletic and really want to play for the love of the game.?

And it is that love of the game, all the players hope will draw fans to the gates.

Darren Bovell

?Everybody has been asking for the local talents; now is their chance to see all the local guys at work.?

According to the Belize Basketball Association, the five teams will each play a home and an away game. Janelle Chanona for News 5.

Tonight’s tip-off is scheduled for nine o’clock.

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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