By Neto Baptiste
Former national and Skillville shooting guard, Richie Francis, believes players today lack the determination and confidence that allowed others before them to dominate the game, not only nationally but also on the regional and international platforms.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show Francis, who still competes in the annual Business League Basketball Competition, said even those players who dominate the national leagues on an annual basis, lack the self-belief required to push them to the next level.
“I remember one day, Termite [Lennox McCoy] came to me during a Leeward Island tournament and asked what my record was because he wants to have the most points, and I told him that if he could score about 36 points, and he said that was too much. I said what, I could score 36 with ease and sometimes at halftime I already have 20 points,” he said.
“I had a hunger for it but these guys they don’t have the hunger. When I told them that I had scored 100 everybody said no and then business league came, this was two years ago, somebody scored 100 and I said, you see that, but the problem with that is that these guys who score like that, they don’t transform that ability to the national team and then when they go abroad they can’t do the same thing,” he added.
Regarded as one of the best shooters to have played the game here, Francis said that competing alongside the likes of Carl “Boldie” Knight and the deceased Noel “Nyah” Roberts not only spurred the desire to win, but the need to dominate their opponents in all aspects of the game.
“Basketball in our days with Carl Knight and Noel ‘Nyah’ Roberts, Wayne Harris and these guys, we would come into the tournament as the smallest team in body structure and height but we were fearless. I don’t see that kind of passion today in basketball, that we had in those days. Regardless to who you were in terms of teams; so like St. Kitts couldn’t beat us, that wasn’t going to happen easily, and there were just certain countries that it wasn’t going to happen,” he said.
The calypsonian and songwriter went on to advocate for the return of both the Leeward Islands and OECS tournaments adding that the country must stamp its authority at the sub-regional level.
“Not only that we need back those two tournaments, but Antigua needs to be the bully or the bulldogs of those two tournaments in terms of the Leeward Islands and the OECS. It was a little bit difficult when I would go and watch the Leeward Islands tournament and I would ask if we can’t win the Leeward Islands or the OECS. We have to be struggling to even place in the top two in the Leeward Islands basketball tournament or the OECS,” he said.
The Antigua and Barbuda Basketball Association top scoring award has been named in the player’s honour. Francis has won several national and regional scoring titles spanning the 80s and early 90s.