MONTEGO BAY, St James — Fresh on the heels of their historic appearance at the Americas men's basketball championships in Venezuela last month, Jamaica's JamRockerZ have been included on the FIBA rankings for the first time, appearing in the number 55 position, tied with the Central African Republic.
Jamaica, who scored historic wins over Brazil and Argentina during their run that saw them finish in eighth place from 10 teams in their first-ever qualification for the World Championships qualifier, are the highest ranked Caribbean island, just ahead of Cuba in 57th position.
According to an article on the FIBA website, Jamaica moved up 24 places from number 79, just failing to match Belgium's leap of 27 places to be ranked joint 50th.
The FIBA rankings were published following the completion of the various Continental championships signalling the end of the season with world champions United States, Spain and Argentina being the top three teams, with Lithuania and Greece filling out the top five.
After losing their first three games to Canada, Uruguay and Puerto Rico, Jamaica upset 10th ranked Brazil 78-76 to qualify for the second round where they beat third-ranked and 2012 Olympic champions Argentina 81-75 for their only victory in the round.
Jamaica had qualified for the FIBA Americas tournament after a third-placed finish at the Centro Tournament last year, and were the only unranked team there joining the likes of third-ranked Argentina, 19th-ranked Brazil, 17th-ranked Puerto Rico, 24th-ranked Mexico, 25th-ranked Canada, 26th-ranked Dominican Republic, 27th-ranked Uruguay, 28th-ranked Venezuela and 46th-ranked Paraguay.
Ajani Williams, president of the Jamaica Basketball Association and the main driving force behind the rise in the game here, expressed his gratitude to his management team, as well as the cadre of players he had to work with during his tenure.
"I am grateful that I could have been president during this era of great talent with the likes of Samardo Samuels and Jerome Jordan. I was also fortunate to have had talented players such as Weyinmi Rose, Patrick Ewing Jnr, Akeem Scott, Adrian Uter, Ryan Reid, Roy Hibbert, Dylan Ennis, and many others throughout the years," he said in an email to the media on Monday.
The coaching staff led by Sam Vincent and various sponsors, he said, were also part of the success, but he asked that more be done if the JamRockerZ are to fulfil their potential to be a consistent top 20 team.
"Much more needs to be done by way of real support from both the private and public sectors in aid of a burgeoning and very valuable sport to our nation's development, and in parallel to their brands. Basketball should be a priority in ensuring Jamaica become a top 20 and eventually a top 10 nation," Williams said.