By Rawle Toney
With the Next Level Entertainment (NLE) tournament to bounce off next Sunday, retired Col. Godwin McPherson, president of the Guyana Amateur Basketball Federation (GABF) said that the local players will have a chance to vie for a spot on Guyana’s national team for the upcoming Caribbean Basketball Confederation (CBC) Championships.
McPherson whose federation has officially sent in a bid to host the tournament believes that the NLE tournament is perfect as a selection criteria since it will feature some of the country’s top basketball players.
“It’s important for the federation and the public to get a chance to see some of the best in action since if the games are played here, we would want some of our top local players on show as well. Already the federation has a list of players whom we have worked with in the past, but time has changed and some new players have emerged so we would want to have a good look at them and again, here is where this tournament comes into play,” said the long standing GABF president.
With only teams from Linden and Georgetown competing in the tournament this year, McPherson said that regarding players from Berbice they are aware of the talent in that county and the players will have their full opportunity to impress the local selectors for a spot on the national team.
The Next Level tournament, McPherson said, is just the beginning of a series of events which the federation will be engaged in leading up to the CBC tournament in August.
“Of course there is the tour of our good friends from Washington DC (DC Jammers) who always bring a lot of hopefuls who are no doubt capable of making the selection in Guyana’s national team. Also we are talking to another promoter who wants to hold another big tournament, so lots of basketball is in planning and we want to keep the sport in the air leading up the championships,” said McPherson.
Already, names such as Darcel Harris, Stephan Gillis, Royston Siland and Ryan Stephaney, all players from Georgetown, are beginning to surface as strong contenders for a place on the team while from Linden there are players such as Marvin Hartman, Jason Alonzo, Steve Neils Jr., Kevin Joseph and Dwayne “Brown Sugar” Roberts.
Young rising star 6’ 3” point guard Akeem Kanhai, who is said to be one of the best junior players in the country, is also tipped to get a call up. But Kanhai who plays for Amelia’s Ward Jets will have to seize the opportunity to impress the selectors in the NLE tournament that he’s more than ready to make the transformation.
So far he is yet to play in a tournament of this magnitude but he is considered to be one of the dominant forces on the Jets team and in the Linden Amateur Basketball Association (LABA).
Also recently they are lots of Guyanese who have been playing well within the Caribbean, more so in Trinidad and Tobago. Players such as Nkosi Gurrick, Kerwin Blades and Andrew Ifill are regular features in the island’s basketball league.
Prior to sending in the bid to host the CBC tournament, McPherson had said that if the games were to be held in a territory which requires Guyanese players to have a US visa, then Guyana would not be participating.
However, the outcome of Guyana’s bid is not known but so far reports are that Guyana is the lone contender to host both the male and female version of the championship while the British Virgin Islands has bid to host just the men’s competition.