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FIBA Centrobasket U17 Championship tips off on Wednesday at the Civic

Photo: The 2023 Belize U17 Boys National Basketball Team.

BELIZE CITY, Mon. July 24, 2023

The arrival of the Dominican Republic National U17 Boys basketball team yesterday signaled that Belize sports fans can now switch their attention from the just completed 2023 U19 Central American Volleyball Championship tournament to the FIBA Centrobasket U17 Championship which opens on Wednesday, July 26 at 2:00 p.m. at the Belize City Civic Centre.

Costa Rica vs El Salvador is the opener, with Mexico vs the Dominican Republic next at 4:00 p.m., Jamaica vs Puerto Rico at 6:30 p.m., and host Belize hoping to defeat Panama at 8:30 p.m.

Belize plays in the last game at 8:30 p.m. every night and has games with Jamaica on Thursday, and Puerto Rico on Friday.

The semi-finals are on Saturday, and the tournament culminates on Sunday with the finals and medal and awards ceremony.

The three top teams, the medal winners will qualify for the U18 Americas Championship next year.

Belize is in Group A with Puerto Rico, one of the pre-tournament favourites, and also with Jamaica and Panama. The other pre-tournament favourites, the Dominican Republic and Mexico are in Group B with Costa Rica and El Salvador.

Belize basketball managers and coaches are hopeful that one of its best U17 teams, at least on paper, may be able to medal for the first time in this regional tournament.

The selection process started 3 months ago with workouts in all four regions of the country, and began in earnest 2 weeks ago. As Belize basketball legend Clinton “Pulu” Lightburn described it in a Facebook post today, the team has “… man fram alla bout – man fram Crooked Tree, man fram Belize Riva Valley, man outa Griga, man from Suga City, man outa Belmopan, man fram Jungle, man fram Kings Park, man fram George Street, man from Record Shack pan King Street, man outa Corozal, man fram Hard Roc (South Side).

The final roster released this weekend includes former Belize Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Said Musa’s grandson, Daniel Musa, and while Amare Rhys, Trenton Perriot (Belize City), Hua Zao (Benque Viejo), and Rashad Neal (Belmopan), did not make the final cut, Devin Moody, Thomas Garcia, Jason Orosco, Michael Caceras (Belize City); Tevaun Dakers, Amare Jones, Tevaughan Dawson (Orange Walk); Douglas Langford, Jr., (Dangriga/California); Wilford Dawson, (California); Ian Parham, Jr. (Florida); and Meshach Flowers (Belmopan/Houston) comprise the 12-man roster.

Belize last played in a U17 Centrobasket tournament in Gurabo, Puerto Rico in 2011, finishing 6th after defeating the Bahamas and Panama but losing to Mexico in the group play, and then defeating the British Virgin Islands in the semifinal round before losing to a Dominican Republic team which featured then NBA prospect now superstar Karl-Anthony Townes aka Kat on its roster in the finals round.

That team featured current BEBL players Devin Daly, Brian White, and Akeem Watters, as well as Bryton Codd who is an active player on the 2023 Belize Men’s National Volleyball Team.