Withdrawal of top tier teams results in historic climb for promoted Division Two teams in local basketball 

President of the Antigua and Barbuda Basketball Association, Michael Freeland
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By Neto Baptiste

A reduction in the number of teams that will compete in this year’s Division One basketball competition has forced the Antigua and Barbuda Basketball Association (ABBA) to divert from the norm of having newly promoted Division Two teams wait until the following season before competing in the top tier.

This was revealed by president of the association Michael Freeland who said the two teams promoted at the end of the ongoing Division Two competition will turn out for the Division 1 competition set to start just three weeks later.

“At the end of the Division Two there will be two teams going up to Division 1 and you’ll have a two or three-week break between the two divisions, so we asked, ‘are you comfortable playing in the Division 1 once the Division One season has started?’ There were 11 clubs there out of 14 clubs and not one them said they would not be prepared and they wanted the opportunity to play. We had to get that decision from the clubs, we couldn’t just make it mandatory because wear and tear of athletes and being mindful of scheduling and that sort of thing,” he said.

Freeland explained that a number of factors would have contributed to the decision by some teams to pull out of the pending Division One competition which would have significantly compromised the quality of play in the Division.

“Simply because they cannot field a team or there are some financial issues where there are certain things they can’t get in order so, as a result, we have moved from nine teams in Division Two to six teams. Three teams cannot field a team because there’s just not enough talent in Rockersville, Outlaws, and Police, who have a written to us indicating that [they] would not be in a situation of preparedness for this season. There are other big clubs who were almost in that situation as well,” the president said.

The Division Two competition is set climax within the next two weeks but a start date for Division One is dependent on the start and completion of the laying of an artificial surface at the JSC basketball complex.

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