USVI men face important matches in FIBA World Cup qualifiers | Sports
Donald Bough is well aware of the importance of this weekend’s games for the US Virgin Islands men’s national basketball team as they attempt to qualify for the FIBA Basketball World Cup in next year.
A victory in one of the two games for the USVI national team in the group matches of the first round of the Qualifiers for the Americas this weekend in the Dominican Republic could go a long way towards achieving this goal.
“We have to score [a win] in one of them, and we would be in a good position in a way,” Bough – the head coach of the US Virgin Islands – said in a telephone interview on Thursday.
The USVI National Team – No. 54 in the latest FIBA World Rankings and 0-2 in Americas Qualifying Group C – today faces No. 62 Bahamas (0-2) and then faces the Canada, 18th in the standings (2-0) on Sunday.
Both matches will be played at the Palacio de los Deportes in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Game time for both is 3 p.m. Atlantic.
The USVI national team are already in a hole in group play, having lost their first two games – both to 20th-seeded Dominican Republic by scores of 87-65 on November 28 and 100- 56 on November 29.
Those losses put the US Virgin Islands in a hole heading into this weekend’s second window of group games, but a win in either game this weekend would give USVI an edge going into the final games. group in early July.
The top three teams from each of the four groups in the Americas Qualifiers advance to the second round, with matches scheduled for August and November 2022, and February 2023. The top seven will then qualify for the FIBA Basketball World Cup, scheduled for August 25. -Seven. 10, 2023, in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia.
That’s why Bough and his players are most focused on the Bahamas, where the USVI national team is 2-0 in life – both victories coming in the Basketball World Cup qualifiers. -ball FIBA 2019.
“It’s the team we’re looking for the most,” Bough said. “Ironically they are in a similar situation to us – we both come from small islands with few people, and we both come straight here to train and prepare.”
USVI easily beat Bahamas in their previous two group matches – 93-85 on Nov 27, 2017 and 84-74 on June 28, 2018. If they can do it again (rematch would be July 1) , that would give the US Virgin Islands who needed a third-place finish in group play to qualify.
However, the US Virgin Islands will be missing two key players for this weekend’s matches.
Bough said USVI’s two starting guards – international veterans Walter Hodge and Georgio Milligan – will not be available due to visa and travel issues.
The 6-foot Hodge is currently in Kuwait, playing for Al Kuwait in the Kuwaiti Basketball Division I League, while the 6-3 Milligan plays for Sport Club Corinthians of Novo Basquete Brasil in Brazil.
Likely to take their place are 5-11 Max Amaro, who plays for Cariduros de Fajardo from Puerto Rico’s Baloncesto Superior Nacional, and 6-4 Kyle Clarke, who played varsity ball at Kennesaw State.
That will put the scoring load on the USVI national team’s strength — its interior game, according to Bough.
The U.S. Virgin Islands have five players on their 6-7 or better roster, led by 6-9 center Rakeem Christmas, a third-team AP All-American at Syracuse who spent two seasons with the NBA’s Indiana Pacers; 6-9 center LaRon Smith, who now plays for CB Sant Antoni of the Spanish league LEB Silver; and 6-7 striker Ivan Aska, now with Hungarian Nemzeti Bajniksag I/A’s DEAC.
Aska was USVI’s top scorer (12 points per game) in their first two group games, Noël – now playing professional ball with Taiwan Super Basketball League’s Yulon Luxgen Dinos – averaging 11 points and 6.5 rebounds.
“I have a certain height, but hopefully the guard game can step up a bit,” Bough said. “We hope that with what we have here, we have a big team. … But we feel like we can take on anyone. We feel confident. We will be ready to play and we believe we can win.