Closed door games touted for local basketball return

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By Akeem Greene

President of the Guyana Amateur Basketball Federation (GABF), Michael Singh, said systems would be put in place to have games played behind closed doors once approval is given for competitive sports to resume in Guyana.

Crowd support for local basketball is usually small and those staunch fans would have to wait a little longer to witness some live action, Singh intimated.

Various sport associations worldwide are gradually seeking to restart competitions and some have already done so with government’s approval, and one noticeable similarity is the agreement of no fans being allowed in venues.

In early March, FIBA, the global governing body for basketball, was one of the first international federations to have suspended all its international competitions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 26, they published guidelines for the safe return of basketball.

Michael Singh

Though the guidelines point out structural changes to coaching and play, one of which advises at least three to six weeks training for athletes prior to competition restart, National Associations must shape their plans in line with their country’s COVID-19 guidelines.

According to FIBA: “When public authorities have granted permission for sport activities to begin, more conventional approaches to training and competition may commence – it must be recognised that public authorities will most likely restrict gatherings of large numbers of individuals and therefore spectator attendance may be prohibited as competitions commence. Federations should also anticipate that there may be an unwillingness on the part of many to participate in events in settings where crowds are anticipated.”

Singh said: “Not having fans in place is critical. Remember your fan base is a critical component of the game…we know some of the teams play better when their fans are cheering. We know what is going on in the world right now and if we have to play the game that we love without fans, we will comply.”

He further noted a big blow was the cancellation of the Caribbean Basketball Championships. In 2018, after 37 years, Guyana had regained the Championship title when they defeated Antigua and Barbuda in Suriname.

While understanding the necessity for cancellation, Singh indicated Guyana wanted to return and defend their title as they seek to graduate from the Caribbean basketball level.

“It was tremendously hard for us given we are defending champions and were looking to defend our title and move unto the next level. Some of the others on the Federation don’t want to return to the Caribbean level because they think we should be aiming higher. As president, I wanted to show the Caribbean that (2018) was not a fluke and we wanted to show we could do better.”

Since there was no CBC, he indicated they will automatically qualify for the next level of competition which is the FIBA America Cup qualifier in 2021.

The President also welcomed the reported July 31 restart of the NBA, given the strict safety protocols set to be put in place by the organisers.

Meanwhile, the GABF has started a workout challenge with the ultimate goal of ensuring their elite players are still close to game readiness.

The challenge, which is open to all players from the federation’s sub-associations, entails four full court shuttles, 100 push-ups followed by 10 made 3-point shots. It caters for the first 50 persons to send videos to Guyana Basketball Facebook page.

The person who completes the exercise in the least of amount of time will be awarded $75,000, while second cops $25,000.

Singh noted that players should adhere to the COVID-19 precautions when conducting the challenge.

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