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By Carlena Knight

Former national basketballer, Kurt Looby, credited communication and unity for the 2015 senior men’s basketball team’s success with Antigua and Barbuda gaining a bronze medal for the second time at the Caribbean Basketball Championships (CBC) in Tortola.

The Clare Hall Secondary School (CHSS) graduate after finishing his studies at Antigua State College (ASC) went to play for Tyler Junior University and Iowa University. After graduating in 2008, he went on to play in the NBA Development League, professionally in Puerto Rico for Mets de Guaynabo, in Greece and in Germany.

But Looby says despite playing professionally his greatest honour was playing for his country once again in 2015 following a hiatus since his first appearance in 2004 in Cuba. 

“I am the type of person where I just try to keep it 100 percent and you know a lot of rumours were going around so coach [George Hughes] kept in touch with me throughout the time before I came; all while I was in Greece, even with the time difference and stuff like that, he kept calling me and for me that meant a lot. That’s number one, to see a coach from Antigua take the time out to communicate with players overseas. From that right there I knew we had something special,” Looby explained.

 “I already felt welcomed and I came down there, coach showed up at the docks and I just felt the love. On other teams I was just there, and that’s my job, but coming down to play for my country that meant everything. That’s one of the memories I will never forget.”

The professional player also mentioned the differences he had in playing on the 2015 team compared to that of the first bronze medal team of 2004. He says the 2013 team showed true professionalism and camaraderie.

“I can’t really remember Cuba 100 percent, but in Tortola, it was like a program, like a family. Every day coach drilled it in our heads like this isn’t just a jersey. We had shirts and every time we went around you knew who Antigua Bulldogs were; no matter if it was to the gym, to practice, going out to eat, everywhere we went we had a different shirt. You could see that unity, that family setting and for me, we are not the biggest island but when you come together, you can achieve anything.”

Another professional player, Ernest Scott, spoke not only on his journey that year, but also about the impact a player like Looby had on the team.

“In 2014, we didn’t have Kurt, I believe he got married that summer and we went to the tournament. It was my first time playing for Coach George and for the countr and we beat the Bahamas that year and we kind of blew it against another team, but the difference was we didn’t have a guy like Kurt. To come back the next year, it was definitely personal for me to finish what we started the year before, because we definitely left an opportunity on the table, and to bring Kurt in, that just gave everyone a lot more confidence with someone of his ability and stature. We had Sharife [Sergant] on the inside but to have somebody like Kurt who I have been through the wars with, played in the D League together, played in Greece together in big games and tough situations so I had someone I could trust to be right there behind me. It was definitely medal or nothing.”

George Hughes, head coach at the time of the 2015 bronze medal team, spoke on the experience he had. He further revealed plans they made to celebrate the five-year anniversary of that historic event.

“It was a very stressful type of environment. All the expectations were on us to come out with some sort of hardware, and one of the things I told the guys is as a motivation to them was if we actually medaled we would have an anniversary every five years as long as all of us were around to try and keep that camaraderie and to try and keep that friendship and forever memory that we made, so what was supposed to happen this year was I was supposed to be living up to my word and we were supposed to have some activities on island; all the guys were supposed to travel home, but because of Covid in speaking to ABBA, we will change it.”

That event will now take place next year.

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