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Feb 11, 1998

Basketball officials announce hosting of Caribbean Championships

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The upper levels of Belizean basketball have always been rich in raw talent but somewhat less so in organization. Today the people in charge of the Belize National Basketball Association announced plans that they hope will put this country at least on the regional map. Patrick Jones reports.

It may never measure up to Madison Square Garden, the Forum in L.A. or the Arena in Boston. Nonetheless, the City Centre or “Civic” in Belize City is the venue chosen for one of the Caribbean’s most prestigious tournaments.

John Saldivar, President, B.N.B.A

“In 1996, Belize announced its intention to the rest of the Caribbean for us to bid to host the 1998 Senior Caricom Championships. In 1997 in Jamaica at the Annual General meeting, Belize was given the rights to host this tournament.”

Ten male and six female teams, including host country Belize, have already confirmed participation in the Tournament, schedule for mid June.

But while officials of the B.N.B.A. are joyously optimistic about realizing their dream, the lack of a proper court might just be the thing to burst their bubble.

Q: In order for Belize to be able to put its best foot forward for this tournament in June, the Civic Center would have to undergo a complete overhaul. Will we make it in time for the June Nineteenth opening day?

Clyde Young, Secretary General, B.N.B.A.

“Well, let?s put it this way. The Government has said that they will do all they can in their powers financial and labor wise to put the Civic Center in readiness for the tournament in June. At the B.N.B.A. level that is out of our hands. The only thing is that we will definitely be behind the Government to make sure that they do it, but that is the Government’s commitment.”

A commitment which the Association’s President John Saldivar, says amounts to a little over three hundred thousand dollars. That is the price tag the new custom made court carries.

P.J.: I know you all are asking for positive media attention so far as this tournament is concerned and I am hoping that I am not the only one feeling or thinking that we are biting off more than we can chew.

John Saldivar

“Well, initially, up until the point as I said when we got Government’s approval of these monies, we were a bit apprehensive and therefore we were very concerned to get Government’s commitment. And at the Annual General Meeting, Mr. Davis, on behalf of the ministry informed the A.G.M. that yes indeed Government was in the process of approving these funds and now two weeks after we have had the funds approved. So with that in place, the basketball court would have seem to us to be the major obstacle in terms of providing facilities and since that is now being taken care of, no I don’t, think we are biting off more than we can chew.”

Q: Has the building of the court started?

Clyde Young

“Well M and R Productions had told us that they had initially made contact with these people. Whether or not the court is being put together already I do not know. That is something that we will address this weekend with M and R Productions.”

M and R Productions is the L.A. based group led by former college star, Nigel Miguel. If all goes as planned, the spanking new court should arrive in Belize and be installed at the Civic by the third week of May. Saldivar says an assessment of what’s wrong with the Civic is currently being carried out and that renovations should get underway next week. In terms of accommodations, Saldivar says a deal has been signed which will see the hundred’s of athletes, four per room, boarding at the Biltmore Plaza for the two week duration of the tournament.

John Saldivar

“That is standard. What was under discussion during the Annual General Meeting, was what type of beds would be used to accommodate these players. Biltmore was providing double beds, but the association has indicated that they would prefer single beds. We have already worked that out with the Biltmore and the Ministry of Sports so we will have singled beds, four single beds per room. In terms of four per room, that is standard.”

Although the initial stages of the preparation look less than impressive, the B.N.B.A Secretary General says there is no better time than the present for Belize show that it can host a regional tournament.

Clyde Young

“You have to understand that these tournaments are held, the junior and seniors are held every other year, like for example last year it was the juniors, this year the seniors, next year the juniors, the other year the seniors. If we had waited to bid on the senior tournament, the next senior tournament after this, would have been the year two thousand, which is the year of the Olympics which means that the tournament in the year two thousand really doesn’t mean anything because it doesn’t qualify you for anything as that is the year of the Olympic. This is the tournament that starts qualifying the Caricom Tournament. In importance to qualifying, this is the first one.”

And the one that has the potential for both glory – and embarrassment – for Belize’s regional reputation. Patrick Jones, for News Five.

The estimated price tag for hosting the tournament is five hundred thousand dollars. The organizers will try to recoup their investment through gate receipts and concession sales.

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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