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Dear Editor: Can T&T basketball follow the Golden State lead? Yes, we can, says SOSBA

“Like in several areas of sport, in basketball too, Trinidad and Tobago remains a nation with unexploited or underexploited potential. A variety of unaddressed issues restrict the realization of the existing potential. Among them are the absence of what we might term oneness of purpose and—perhaps as a consequence—the existence of an environment of disharmony.

“But as we do regarding many other things, we can usefully turn our eyes to the example of those more successful…”

The following Letter to the Editor on the state of local basketball was submitted to Wired868 by Stories of Success Basketball Academy official Chevon Le Gendre:

Once a formidable regional force in basketball, Trinidad and Tobago has not managed to hold its own in the sport in recent times, the nation having now virtually disappeared from the FIBA World Ranking. In the latest listing, the National Men’s Team is nowadays ranked as the lowest CBC country at 143, just six spots above the bottom of the barrel which contains 149 countries..

Photo: A Petro Jazz player in action during a domestic basketball competition.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

On the women’s side, there are 79 teams listed, five of them from the CBC; Trinidad and Tobago is not among them. The T&T women are effectively ranked 80th, since all countries not making the FIBA World Ranking (Men’s or Women’s) are considered to have zero points and are therefore all positioned immediately after the last country on the list.

Of what importance can all this be, one might ask. Well, consider this: Trinidad and Tobago was recently overlooked as a possible participant in the 2018 Commonwealth Games precisely because we are unable to maintain a spot among the best Commonwealth teams in the FIBA World Rankings.

Of course, it does not have to be this way. Like in several areas of sport, in basketball too, Trinidad and Tobago remains a nation with unexploited or underexploited potential. A variety of unaddressed issues restrict the realization of the existing potential. Among them are the absence of what we might term oneness of purpose and—perhaps as a consequence—the existence of an environment of disharmony.

But as we do regarding many other things, we can usefully turn our eyes to the example of those more successful. “Strength in Numbers” is a mantra made popular in recent times by the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. It is the crystallization of a philosophy which defines the GSW operation, both on and off the court. Introduced by Head Coach Steve Kerr on his arrival at the franchise in May 2014, the concept speaks to individuals taking a step back from chasing personal honours and giving greater consideration to the success of the group as a whole.

Photo: Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry holds up one finger to show the world both the direction in which his team is going and where he thinks GSW is properly ranked in the NBA

When individuals and/or organizations work in unison towards a common goal, great feats can be accomplished–-as was demonstrated by the Warriors’ achievement of three NBA Finals appearances (2015– 2017) and two championship titles (2015 & 2017) in three years, as well as the reaching of countless milestones within the same three-year span.

Through the course of development, there will inevitably be differences of opinion; progress comes not from mindless conformity but from new perspectives. A clear sense of purpose thus works to clarify priorities; if we know where we want to go, it is easy to talk about what needs to be done and then go ahead and do it.

Regrettably, in T&T—and not just in basketball—we often seem to lose sight of the common goal and futile disagreements rooted in self-aggrandisement take centre-stage in forums where progressive deliberations can be and should be taking place.

These disputes earn much greater coverage than the salutary aspects of the sport, with the result that public interest in the positives diminishes, participation is deterred and investment discouraged. The upshot of all this is that the sport in T&T stagnates while other nations continue their basketball ascendancy. Unable to generate increased interest in locally developed talent or to implement serious programmes to produce consistently competitive national teams or to establish a viable domestic league, we have little chance of keeping pace with what is happening on the international front and fall further and further behind.

Photo: Former NBFTT president Garvin Warwick (far left) is the current advisor to Sport Minister Darryl Smith. Might that mean that resources will be more readily available? Hmmmmm…
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

The local basketball fraternity is relatively small but it boasts a number of people willing to contribute their time, effort and resources to the development of the sport. Moreover, we are fortunate to have among us people with invaluable institutional understanding and practical experience as well as individuals with knowledge of modern techniques and innovative concepts.

I submit that this is a sufficient basis for achieving effective, efficient and accountable management of the sport—even if the other resources available to us are limited.Integral to achieving success on that front is unity. The Warriors’ example highlights what can be done merely by ensuring that the spirit of unity prevails within a team dynamic.

Respect is also key. Individuals (administrators, coaches, players) must have respect for themselves and understand the full implications of their having strengths and deficiencies. They must also maintain respect for others and appreciate the value of varied approaches and contributions. Finally—arguably, most importantly—those involved must respect the sport and recognize that the elevation of the national game (and, through it, the society) must take precedence over all personal agendas.

The Stories of Success Basketball Academy remains committed to the growth of basketball in Trinidad and Tobago and remains resolute as regards the cultivation of a unified framework with a view to achieving this goal.

Photo: A Petro Jazz player dunks the ball during basketball action in a domestic competition game against UTT.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

CBC sub-zone [CBC Ranking. Country | FIBA World Ranking]:

               MEN                                                               WOMEN

  1.  Puerto Rico | 15                                             1. Cuba| 14
  2. Dominican Republic | 17                                2. Puerto Rico | 22
  3. Virgin Islands | 51                                           3. Virgin Islands | 35
  4. Bahamas | 59                                                  4. Jamaica | 37
  5. Cuba | 60.                                                       5. Dominican Republic | 44
  6. Jamaica (68)
  7. Antigua | 76
  8. British Virgin Islands | 92
  9. Barbados | 97
  10. St Vincent and the Grenadines | 100
  11. Bermuda | 109
  12. Guyana | 110
  13. Suriname | 118
  14. Cayman Islands | 121
  15. Trinidad and Tobago | 143

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Letters to the Editor
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  1. Yes we can! With the resources made available, to develop the talent we clearly have…yes we can!