Jamaica edged out of FIBA World Cup pre-qualifiersWednesday, April 21, 2021
BY PAUL A REID
Paulton Gordon, president of the Jamaica Basketball Association (JaBA), and Rohan Robinson, assistant coach of the Jamaican senior men's national team, have both expressed disappointment with Jamaica's failure to advance past the first FIBA World Cup Central America and the Caribbean Pre-Qualifiers 2023 that were held at the Adolfo Pineda Gymnasium in San Salvador, El Salvador.
In Monday's final game of the five-day, 10-game, round-robin tournament that saw five teams seeking three spots to the second round of pre-qualifying, Jamaica fell just short, beaten 68-66 by hosts El Salvador in front of a loud crowd.
Jamaica finished fourth in the round-robin tournament, on six points after winning their first two games, beating Costa Rica 69-67 and Guyana 107-87 but then lost to Nicaragua 54-92 before Monday's game.
Costa Rica were winners and will advance to the next round with Nicaragua and El Salvador.
Gordon told the Jamaica Observer on Monday night that they had no illusions about what they were getting into after Jamaica had just three weeks to prepare for the event after a team withdrew.
“We knew it would have been tough to compete in Central America with literally no chance to train as a team,” the JaBA president said. He praised the team's effort, “Great effort by this group of young players.”
Jamaica played consecutive games on the first three days of the tournament and he said that “impacted our performance against Nicaragua and I think ultimately that made the difference,” but added that this should not be the end of the road.
“We need to consistently participate in these regional tournaments to ensure players gain the requisite experience from the junior level. We consider this a speed bump in the road to the national team development, but we will continue to seek opportunities to grow the sport.”
Rohan Robinson, who travelled with three local-based players and administrator Alf Remekie to the tournament, told the Observer yesterday, “It was a tough loss after such a good start under the circumstances; We wish we had the necessary players available to us, more experienced players as we could have done so much better, it should have been pretty easy for us to get through this tournament based on who we have available to us.”
Nevertheless, he said it was not a total loss. “It was a good experience for the guys, it was one of the best group of players we have had, one that was able to come together so quickly and that was why we had the early success. I am so proud of them, just sorry they could not go further.”
With no tournaments in the immediate future, partly because of the coronavirus pandemic, Robinson rued the lost opportunity. “We only got in because one team had dropped out and we were invited within three weeks and we jumped on it and did the best that we could.”
With a day to rest after playing three games, Jamaica was expected to have an edge over the El Salvador team that was playing for the fourth-straight day and trailed by nine points (53-62) with four minutes and 15 seconds to go in the fourth quarter.
An 8-2 run saw the Jamaicans cut the deficit to two points 62-64 with just under 90 seconds to go and were within a point 66-67 with 35 seconds to go but came up short.
Jamaica led by three points (18-15) after the first quarter and the scores were tied 36-36 at the half-time break before El Salvador assumed the lead 52-49 at the end of the third quarter.
Omari Johnson, who led Jamaica in scoring in three of their four games, scored 18 points and had eight rebounds, Marcel Robinson scored 12 points and had eight rebounds, Joel Bailey scored 10 points, while Warren Williams and Romaine Thomas each scored nine points.
El Salvador's Roberto Martinez led all scorers with 19 points, Ronnie Aguilar who sat out most of the fourth quarter with four fouls and Jose Araujo scored 11 points each.