The Cayman Islands national men’s basketball programme opened training camp this past Thursday (25 October) with a clear objective in mind: Win a second gold medal at the 18th NatWest Island Games in Gibraltar 6-12 July 2019.
Island Games aside, what is the direction of basketball in the Cayman Islands? Head Coach Ed-Pillot Rosa says it’s seeing a homegrown talent make it to the big leagues.
“My ultimate goal is to see some of these young Caymanians on the ultimate stage in the NBA” said Pellot-Rosa. “I really think if we can get these kids to the NBA, it can really change the face of basketball in Cayman. I think that we have the talent here in Cayman for these kids to really reach those dreams.”
If it’s the international experience they’re after, Cayman won’t see the court anytime soon. They’ve missed the qualification window for both the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China, and the 2020 Olympics Games in Toyko. CIBA Technical Director Victor O’Garro says, however, they’ve opted to shift their focus to youth development.
“We send the youths away to high school, whereas before we’d send them to college,” said O’Garro. “We realized that was sort of a problem because the bright lights take them too quickly. In high school, they can make that transition much easier.”
Many in CIBA hope players like Santa Clarita’s Joshua O’Garro and Justin Collins can accomplish what the Association says is one of their biggest goals: A Caymanian playing for an NCAA Division One programme.
A look at camp
Youth hopefuls weren’t the only ones missing in action to open camp.
Cayman’s only professional basketball player, Jorge Ebanks of England’s Worthing Thunder says the more the merrier when it comes to getting Cayman’s future ballers on the court.
“If they’re ready? Sure let’s them out there with us,” said Ebanks. “Let them get that experience. It’s the only way they’re going to learn, if they’re going through the things were going through. It’s not a bad idea if the coaching staff feels like their ready.”
At a glance, Cayman’s first national basketball training camp of 2018 featured both familiar faces, and some first-timers.
After shorts stints with both Lynn University and Saint Leo University, 20-year old Daniel Hurlston says he hopes to be apart of Cayman’s future.
“I just want an opportunity to represent Cayman,” said Hurlston. “I’ve done it on several occasions in the United States, but I wasn’t really known about it, so I want to be known about it this time.”
The camp also attracted some older hopefuls like Filipino Basketball League standout, 36-year old Jerome Lapena. A long shot at best, Lapena is hoping to keep his dream of playing international basketball alive.
“I just want to try my luck, and see if I can still play. I have a background playing college in the Philippines, so I just want to try it.”
No dream is too big for Cayman’s national basketball programme.