LOCALLY-MANUFACTURED sport drink Hy-lyte has teamed up with the Institute of Sports (INSPORTS) to sponsor the Southern and Western Community Basketball Leagues for the upcoming season.
The announcement was made at a press launch at the INSPORTS Board Room at the National Arena yesterday where it was revealed that the new sponsor will contribute over $1 million in cash and kind. INSPORTS will provide some $800,000 to assist in running the tournament.
Twenty-nine teams will contest the Southern Conference set to begin on September 29, while 12 teams will vie for the Western equivalent which tips off the first week of October.
According to Southern Basketball Conference (SBC) president Calvin Martin, his organisation intends to help grow the sport, thus the reason behind this year's theme, 'Breaking the Chain'.
He explained that 'breaking the chain' is a plan to assist in managing the league more professionally and to improve the fan base and quality of match officials.
He said to improve the fan base, they will be hosting preliminary matches at specific community courts such as Tivoli Gardens, Pembroke Hall and Majesty Gardens because of their strong support for the sport. Training seminars will be provided for young officials who have recently been injected into the system.
"Most people do not watch games at the Stadium; it's only the few die-hearted fans who attend the games, but when you take the game to the communities, people can see their players from their communities and we hope that in the first few weeks we'll see the fans coming out to the games," he said.
Four new teams - Duhaney Park, Hope Road All Stars, Sky Legends and Ebony Volcanoes - will contest this year's competition.
In the Southern Conference, the teams will be placed into three zones, two comprising 10 teams and the other, nine.
The teams will play each other once, with the top five teams and the best sixth-placed finisher advancing to the Round-of-16 Play-offs. The winners from this phase will advance to the best-of-three quarter-finals.
This year's winning teams will pocket $100,000, with second getting $70,000, third $40,000 and fourth, $30,000.
The Western Conference, while also set to reap the same benefits as their Southern counterparts, is yet to decide on the format they will employ for their competition.
Martin described the new association with Hy-lyte as a "pivotal moment in Southern and Western Conference basketball", noting that the sponsors will foot half the cost of referees' fees during the preliminaries and the entire cost during the Play-offs.
Hy-lyte's marketing representative Ricardo Martin said he expects the partnership to benefit all involved. He encouraged the teams to take advantage of the 'specials' that will be made available.