Head coach of Guyana’s senior basketball team, Junior Hercules believes that it was the hunger and the determination to win that led to the team qualifying for the AmeriCup pre-qualifier championships in Suriname recently.
“We entered the tournament as the least likely to win with Haiti, Antiqua and Suriname among the favourites but it was the mindset that we could win,” Hercules said.
According to the coach, the confirmation before the competition that Guyana would have some of its best players outside of Guyana was good news as they progressed through the trials.
The confidence of the team was boosted further with their series win against Barbados prior to the tournament and that was what made them hungry to win rather than just participate.
“I think the change also happened when we toured Barbados, we won that series and I think that was a turning point for the Guyanese team. We felt much more confident especially playing in the environment.
“You know, over the years, Barbados has probably beaten us the most all the time and they came out in their numbers. That environment, once we were able to play in it, see what it’s like, feel that level of competition and those guys were hungry instead of just turning up like `where is the party’,” Hercules added.
Crediting the likes of the youngest ever captain of the team, Stanton Rose, Hercules said he “hasn’t seen a talent like him since.”
With the privilege of coaching the successful captain twice, he stated that Rose is an exceptional talent and possesses a high basketball IQ that is not normally be associated with young players. He also possesses the ability to shoot well.
Rose, he added, is a play maker and controls the pace of the game, playing it much faster and creating plays with his team supporting well.
Additionally, the success was due to consistent basketball, which is “absolutely necessary.
“Every time you have the opportunity to play abroad or in a foreign country or against a foreign team, you take that chance to gauge where you are and the level you are playing at,” Hercules explained.
Rose represented Guyana in a tri-series in Jamaica early in 2017 and the exposure did wonders for him, said Hercules adding that when they faced the big names …”The guys weren’t shaken or nervous by the big names.”
The team, a mixture of youth and experienced was well balanced with Rose leading from the front, which was an added bonus said Hercules.
In 2013, Rose and Hercules were selected to represent Guyana in a youth clinic in Qatar but Rose was unable to go because of visa and financial problems.
Hercules said he felt that Rose would have benefited from the exposure.
“Unfortunately he didn’t go, so when he came back at the junior national level he was playing a lot of basketball and in first year of national senior he got the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.”
Hercules praised Guyana Amateur Basketball Federation (GABF) President, Nigel Hinds, whom he claimed was integral to the success of the team.
“I saw him go into his own pocket, drain out his credit cards because the money we had was finished and even though the tournament fee was paid there were still some miscellaneous stuff that needed to be done,” Hercules said.
The Coach explained that Hinds provided stipends for the team because he believed that being a national player must mean something and have a certain impact.
“Even preparations were largely assisted by Hinds because to bring players out from Linden and Kwakwani we needed to put them in places to stay, fruits, water, gym and other stuff added up,” Hercules said.
Looking at their preparation for the AmeriCup, Hercules said that the federation has already stated its position and the authorities know where they stand in terms of finance.
According to Hercules, the necessary bodies must come together in order to ensure Guyana makes it to the AmeriCup, anything less would be an embarrassment to the team, youths who aspire to play the game and the country at large.