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Jan 27, 2023

Digi Belize City Defenders Coming for the B.E.B.L. Win 2023

The National Elite Basketball League has been rebranded under the new leadership of the Belize Basketball Federation to BEBL, Belize Elite Basketball League. The five months of competition begin tonight in Belize City at the Civic Center, the Belize City Defenders are hosting Griga Dream Ballers in the first match of the season. The Defenders believe that they have been robbed of the title and are looking for a first win so they have their eyes on the prize.  News Five’s Duane Moody caught up with the team as they prepared for the match which takes place tonight at nine p.m.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Tip-off is at nine p.m. tonight and the Belize City Defenders team is taking no chances. They have been practicing since November of 2022 and have intensified those workout sessions in preparations for the first match of the season. Devin Daly is the captain.


Devin Daly

Devin Daly, Captain, Belize City Defenders

“Right now it is all about conditioning. Not so much about focusing on the start, but it is a season that goes all the way until the first week of June. So taking care of our bodies, making sure that we are in the right condition to last the season, but this Friday is definitely monumental. COVID rob we, but dah di same recipe and the same staple like 2020 – being together and following the coaches and just the overall pitch of the organization. Defenders dah bout togetherness, being a family and we have that camaraderie.”


He was not planning on returning to the team this year, but former captain Farron Louriano is back on the Belize City Defenders. A veteran basketball player and the highest all-time scorer for the last season, Louriano says that he is sharing his knowledge on the sport with his teammates.


Farron Louriano

Farron Louriano, Belize City Defenders

“My role is not more of a facilitator, helping the guys who are the prime time scorers to get into position to score and do their thing and put us in the best position to win. So at this point I am more defensively focused as opposed to scoring because we have a lot of weapons.  We have Devin, we have Nigel, we have JT, we have Boogie – we have a lot of players who can really contribute to the team in terms of scoring. So in terms of doing the other intangible stuff that is the role I am choosing.”


Each team is allowed two non-Belizean players and as many Belizean heritage players. Since last week, the team has been practicing with three of the athletes. Both towering at over six-seven in height, they speak of what they’re bringing to the team.


Nigel Jones

Nigel Jones, Small Forward, Belize City Defenders

“This is like a return home for me. This will be like my fifth NEBL, well BEBL season, but every season I come in, I just try to bring the flare, the entertainment and do whatever it takes to help the defenders win.”


JT Branch

JT Branch, Power Forward, Belize City Defenders

“Being it’s my first, I just want to make as big of an impact as I can and just provide whatever the team means – whether that is being aggressive on offensive or defensively and then just being able to communicate with my teammates.”


Coach Matthew Smiling and Assistant Coach Darwin “Puppy” Leslie are no strangers to the sport and producing winning teams.  Coach Smiling says that they’ve been training, but there is more work to be done.


Matthew Smiling

Matthew Smiling, Coach, Belize City Defenders

“It’s no secret that everybody is expecting the defenders of 2020 to show up Friday night. I can’t say that. This is a different team. We have a couple new players, some of the players weren’t playing any ball for three years so not making an excuse, but it is not the same team as they saw; different personnel. For the team we have eleven players and we are on our second week with all eleven. We have been preparing from November trying to look for players. But as a team, we only have two weeks with everybody here.”


So what can people expect at the first game?


John Marsden

John Marsden, Marketing Director, Belize City Defenders

“We, the Belize City Defenders, are the host of the opening night. So if anybody know how the Belize City Defenders do it, we always come extra. We tip off at nine p.m. we are doing something different. If you are in the arena by 8:45, we are going to be hosting a raffle for two hundred dollars cash to begin the game. The Belize City Defenders is always one of the most prepared, if not the most prepared and this year, we expect nothing else. Our motto is we are high octane, sharp shooting, high flying. That’s our motto on the basketball team.”


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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