By Neto Baptiste
Basketball players, management staff and even fans have been, for some time now, anxiously awaiting word as to when and how the sport will make its return from a competitive standpoint.
Hopefully, the wait will end with the hosting of a general meeting by the sport’s governing body here, the Antigua and Barbuda Basketball Association (ABBA), which is slated for Friday at the JSC basketball complex on Old Parham Road.
This is the hope of coach Michael Freeland, who said that according to a missive sent to the teams, Friday’s gathering will discuss a number of issues to include the association’s elections and a possible competitive return.
“They are discussing elections, they are discussing basketball operations and any other general matter that clubs may have submitted to the executive that needs to be addressed. I can’t say that we would have gotten any communication as to the rollout but the communication is to have a general meeting on Friday and I am assuming that from there on we will have a rollout,” he said.
Freeland, who is head coach and part founder of the Stingers basketball team, said his players have been eagerly awaiting the sport’s return for some time.
“Even in my own team the guys are saying that we need some competition because I’ve asked them to try and keep in some type of game shape. Whenever we can, we have a little shoot-around but persons are eager. I think the [main] issue really and truly comes down to a health component and I am not certain as to how many in the association are fully vaccinated and we all know that the Ministry of Health has indicated that with any competition that we must be fully vaccinated so that could be a challenge where we are concerned but I can tell you that yes, there is some eagerness,” he said.
The coach has, however, warned that even with the best laid plans, they may not make a full return to competition.
“No matter how small it is, I don’t think that anyone is realistically thinking that basketball will come back onstream at first go with the league and how it was structured prior. There has to be changes just because of what is happening with this pandemic, so from where I sit, my teams expectation is that we will have some format of competition but it’s just about what is the format. Is it something just to get our juices flowing?” he said.
“I don’t think we want to have basketball without fans and you know the adrenalin when you have fans so I think all of that needs to be taken into consideration,” Freeland added.
In April 2020, the association declared the domestic season null and void after the government suspended all competitions due to the spread of the Covid-19 virus. There has been no competitive basketball since then.