The final day of the ninth Basketball without Borders (BWB) Americas 2017 closed with a flourish as the top 66 boys and girls from 16 countries and territories competed in playoff games and a pair of All-Star Games in front of cheering local Bahamian fans Saturday.
Action got underway in the morning as the four boys teams played in semifinal, consolation and championship games. The two girls teams played a single championship game.
The boys champion was the Hawks, which defeated the Spurs in the title game. The Hawks were coached by Atlanta assistant coach Darvin Ham, Wayde Adderley and Derek Cummings. The Hawks roster was Zion Jones (US Virgin Islands), Jeriel Zayas (Puerto Rico), Francisco Farabello (Argentina), Lucas Zibecchi (Brazil), Jermaine Miranda Perez (Puerto Rico), Tyrece Thompson (Jamaica), Addison Patterson (Canada), Kai Jones (Bahamas), Jaden Bediako (Canada) and Kofi Cockburn (Jamaica).
The girls champion was the Sparks, who beat the Fever in an exciting overtime finish, capped by a sudden-death basket. The Sparks were coached by FIBA coach Ronald Cass, Varell Davis and Felix Musgrove. The Sparks roster was Piper Doo (Canada), Diondrea Nixon (Bahamas), Rebeca Morones (Mexico), Lesiriam Pagan (Puerto Rico), Emily Martindale (Canada), Ellanis Armenteros Gelabert (Cuba), Esmery Dahiana Martinez (Dominican Republic), Thiare Antonella Garcia Gutierrez (Chile), Karla Alejandra Martinez Hidalgo (Mexico), Solmilena Arias (Dominican Republic) and Marcela Gutierrez (Uruguay).
At the conclusion of the games, the boys and girls All-Star teams were announced, and in the afternoon, the camp was opened to the general public for the two camper All-Star Games.
Two boys All-Star teams were selected. Team Blue – coached by Atlanta assistant coach Darvin Ham, James Borrego, Tiago Splitter and Acie Law – Zion Jones (US Virgin Islands), Santiago Vescovi (Uruguay), Moises Emilio Andriassi (Mexico), Joel Brown (Canada), Leandro Bolmaro (Argentina), Anthony Lawson (Canada), Samuel Hunter (Bahamas), Bernardo DaSilva (Brazil) and Kofi Cockburn (Jamaica). Team White – coached by Cleveland assistant coach Jim Boylan, Phoenix assistant Bret Burchard, Anderson Varejao and Sasha Vujačić – Carlos Paez (Venezuela), Francisco Farabello (Argentina), Leonardo Colimerio (Brazil), Addison Patterson (Canada), Wheza Panzo (Canada), Joao Marcello Pereira (Brazil), Kai Jones (Bahamas), Mawell Lorca-Lloyd (Chile) and Tyrese Samuel (Canada).
Two girls All-Star teams were named. Team Blue – coached by WNBA Legend Ebony Hoffman and Lorena Nunez – Piper Doo (Canada), Rebeca Morones (Mexico), Emily Martindale (Canada), Ellanis Armenteros Gelabert (Cuba), Thiare Antonella Garcia Gutierrez (Dominican Republic). Team White – coached by FIBA coach Ronald Cass – Sofia Alejandra Payan Martinez (Mexico), Florencia Chagas (Argentina), Patricia Lauren Boers (Canada), Odeth Betancourt (Venezuela), Briontae Riley (Bahamas) and Lorena Anunciacao (Brazil).
In between the All-Star Games, a fun 3-point shooting contest was held among Anthony Lawson (Canada), who was the boys 3-point winner on Friday, Sofia Alejandra Payan Martinez (Mexico), who won the girls 3-point title, and NBA player Sasha Vujačić.
An awards ceremony was held at the end of the day to salute all the campers, and the NBA/WNBA/FIBA coaches and players who worked with each of the campers to improve their skills and help them become even better players in the future.
During the ceremony, the boys and girls camp MVPs and All-Star Game MVPs were announced.
The boys BWB Americas 2017 overall camp MVP was Francisco Farabello (Argentina), while the girls overall camp MVP was Esmery Dahiana Martinez (Dominican Republic).
The All-Star Game MVPs were Wheza Panzo (Canada) for the boys and Florencia Chagas (Argentina) for the girls.
The BWB Americas 2017 camp was a success across the board during the first time it was held in the Bahamas.
“We had gone in the past many times to Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, but what we’ve seen through our Digicel SportsMax program is that there is some rising young talent in the English-speaking part of the Caribbean. We thought it was the perfect time to bring it to the Bahamas, and we are thrilled,” said Kimberly Bohuny, NBA Senior VP, International Basketball Operations. “The Bahamas Basketball Federation did an amazing job and it (Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium) is a wonderful facility. All of the NBA players and coaches here said that they were pleased with the level of talent across the whole continent, and the young players who are here from this part of the world.”
The far-reaching effects of the BWB Americas camp in the Bahamas is more than just the play on the court, according to Bohuny.
“For one, we have the referee clinic. We have one or two young talented officials here who Bernie Fryer (who ran the clinic) had a chance to see. We had 50 coaches at the coaches’ clinic, and everyone walked away very happy with what they had learned at the camp. You have to ‘train the trainers’, because they are the ones to help develop the game here. The girls’ program has expanded. We have never had these many countries, and there is a lot of young talent here. On the boys’ side, this is clearly the best level of talent we’ve had from Latin America. A lot of the young men here are going to have long futures in basketball,” she said.
NBA and FIBA players and coaches, including Dwight Powell (Dallas Mavericks; Canada), Sasha Vujačić (New York Knicks; Slovenia) and Tiago Splitter (NBA, Brazil) coached the high school age campers. Powell, Vujačić and Splitter were joined by 13-year NBA veteran Anderson Varejao (Brazil), former NBA player Acie Law (U.S.) and WNBA Legend Ebony Hoffman (U.S.).
Current NBA assistant coaches James Borrego (San Antonio Spurs), Jim Boylan (Cleveland Cavaliers), Darvin Ham (Atlanta Hawks) and David Vanterpool (Portland Trail Blazers) served as BWB Americas coaches. Patrick Hunt (President of the World Association of Basketball Coaches; Australia) and Ronald Cass (FIBA Coach) were camp directors for the boys and girls, respectively. Armando Rivas (Chicago Bulls) was the camp’s athletic trainer. Bernie Fryer, a former NBA player, and referee, held daily clinics for Bahamas Basketball Federation referees. The BBF referees worked each game of BWB Americas 2017.
BWB Americas brought together the top male and female players born in 2000 from across North and South America to learn directly from NBA, WNBA and FIBA players, legends, and coaches and to compete against the best young players from the region. BWB Americas included a Jr. NBA camp with local children in the Bahamas, which highlighted the power of sport to promote cultural understanding while teaching the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle and the values of the game, including teamwork, integrity, and respect. There was also a coaching clinic held by BWB for local Bahamian coaches. Nike, a BWB global partner since 2002, outfitted the campers and coaches with Nike apparel and footwear.