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Apr 19, 2018

Belize U-fifteen Boys Basketball Team Bring Back Medals from COCABA Championship

Their welcome home was not a big deal, but the Under-fifteen Boys National Basketball Team has every reason to be proud. Beating the odds, the team came back with bronze medals from the COCABA Championship held in El Salvador from the eleventh to fifteenth April. The team placed third and two players got special recognition for top tournament performances in four of the seven categories awarded. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

It may not have been first place, but the Belize National Under-fifteen Boys Basketball Team surely made the country proud when it returned this Monday with the third place title in the 2018 COCABA championships held in El Salvador last week. Despite all odds, including the lack of practice space and finance to prepare for the regional qualifying games and going up against well-oiled teams, team Belize also managed to capture four of the seven individual awards.


Paul Thompson

Paul Thompson, President, B.B.F.

“This Central American Championship was held in El Salvador from the eleventh of April until the fifteenth; we had seven countries participating in this tournament starting from Belize all the way to Panama. The Belize national Team placed third, won bronze medal at this tournament. The team comprised of players from all across the country starting with Benque Viejo, San Ignacio, Dangriga, Corozal, Orange Walk and we had one player from the United States.”


Matthew Smiling Jr.

Matthew Smiling Jr., National Men’s Head Coach, B.B.F.

“We had limited time to prepare. We actually started preparing March third; the trip left tenth of April so we had a little under six weeks to prepare. And I much say that we did exceptionally well due to the fact that we were going up against teams that have been preparing for this tournament for over a year.  Also finance. all these teams are well, well financed. They have a well-machine that travels with them; we are only three personnel that travel. These teams have twelve to fifteen personnel that takes care of the team. The machinery behind them is far superior to what we here are doing in Belize.”


On April eleventh, the team played its first game against Panama and lost by twenty-nine points. But they recovered to beat Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador. BelAm Nikai Martinez received individual awards for most assists and most steals while Izid Lopez was recognized and awarded for most overall points scored and the highest three-point shooting efficiency.


Izid Lopez

Izid Lopez, Co-Captain, Belize National U-15 Boys Basketball Team

“Offense was perfect but the defense we had to work a little bit more on. We didn’t really know what really was our game; if it was the two-three zone or the full court man to man. We played the two-three zone in the first half against El Salvador and we were down ten and when we played the full court defense, man to man, we went up; we end up winning by ten so I thought that was the better defensive play. I feel good. I never think I mi wah get the three point efficiency but I know the score was really good. And to give other people advice: I have a rim ina my yard and I just practice every day—shoot, shoot, shoot.”


With the placement, Belize has the chance to possibly advance to the 2018 FIBA Centro Basket Tournament. Regional events like these also provide opportunities for young promising athletes to be recruited for athletic scholarships.


Paul Thompson

“I say hopeful because Panama hosting the Centro Basket Tournament would allow us to be a participant in that Centro Basket Tournament.”


Matthew Smiling Jr.

“These tournaments are on the FIBA International website, the COCABA has a website of its own and scouts from schools abroad normally look at these tournaments. The first national team I took was in 1999 where we had four kids from that team that got scholarships. We have Devin Daly who we took to Puerto Rico and Costa Rica and he ended up with a scholarship. We have a kid by the name of Jared Shattam that went to Panama in 2014 and he got recognized in that tournament—he was the best player hands down—he got a scholarship from that and no doubt they will be looking at Izid and Nikai Martinez.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

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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1 Response for “Belize U-fifteen Boys Basketball Team Bring Back Medals from COCABA Championship”

  1. stacey says:

    how come all you hear on the news is all about Belize city children and their sporting activity. Here in San Ignacio we have the u13 foot ball competition. We would like to hear about them too. And to see these babies play will blow you away. like you watching a national football meet. Im just saying there are other children in this Jewel r not follow up on their activities too.

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