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A dozen teams coming for BBF’s ‘Summer of Thunder’

  • Former North Carolina Tar Heels and current Cleveland Cavaliers player Tyler Zeller goes up for two points in the lane during their game against an all-star team from The Bahamas during the BBF’s ‘Summer of Thunder’ three years ago. A number of NCAA Division I teams are scheduled to be here in The Bahamas for this year’s classic. FILE

Guardian Sports Reporter

Published: Jun 13, 2013

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A record number of collegiate basketball teams from the United States will start their pre-season run right here in The Bahamas, competing in the 5th Annual BTC ‘Summer of Thunder’ Classic.

A total of 12 teams coming to participate in the classic are all under the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) Division I umbrella, but play in different conferences. Some of the squads are Manhattan University, the University of Mississippi, Maryland University, South Carolina State, Canisius College, Bradley University, Kent State University and the University of Wisconsin Green Bay.

The scrimmage games, set for August 2-29 at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium, will line the collegiate squads up against some of the local teams which have already start practicing, this according to Sean Bastian, director for the Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF) for international tournaments.

“This year we have a record-breaking 12 teams,” said Bastian. “Heading the line-up will be Maryland University with our very own Shaquille Cleare. He will be down to compete in three games. The Bahamas Basketball Federation is excited about this year’s ‘Summer of Thunder’. This is our fifth year of doing it, and the tournament has become a major attraction for U.S. division one programs.

“The reason why the ‘Summer of Thunder’ is a major attraction for the division one schools is because the NCAA has approved a new sanctioning, where division one teams can travel outside of the United States once every four years. During that sanctioning, the freshman players are allowed to compete with the returning ball players. That is a major plus for coaches in the U.S. Coming to countries like The Bahamas, it gives the teams an opportunity to establish chemistry and get a good feel of working on their weaknesses and strengths. The ‘Summer of Thunder’ is a tournament that really benefits all especially our local teams as it gives them an opportunity to showcase their skills against high powered teams. It also gives our men an opportunity to be recruited by these division one programs.”

Some of the local teams which will be playing in the tournament are the MailBoat Cybots, the Commonwealth Bank Giants, The Real Deal Shockers, The Bahamas All-stars, the New Providence All-stars, the PJ’s Stingers, the Street Legends All-stars and a team from Grand Bahama. About 42 games are on the schedule this year. Last year, only 29 games were played.

Adding more games was not a big challenge, according to Bastian, who believes the biggest challenge was getting the colleges to commit. One of the concerns was having qualified teams which could give the college teams a good run. The local coaches have all made a promise to the Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF), saying that their players will be ready when it’s their time to hit the court. Bastian said the winding minutes of the games usually pose a problem for the local players.

He said: “The challenge, when it comes to our teams playing these division one programs is really seen in the fourth. They tend to break down our teams in the last seven to eight minutes, that is where most of our challenges are. As a matter of fact, the month of August is an off-season for our local associations in regards to our league. It has been a problem over the years, but this year the coaches have told me that they will prepare properly by putting themselves in the tournaments during the months of June and July, so this year, I assure you that we are going to be very competitive and we are going to pull off several of these games.”

The tentative schedule has Manhattan University playing the PJ’s Stingers, on August 2 at 7 p.m. The following day, Manhattan University will play The Bahamas All-stars at 4 p.m. Other games include Maryland University playing the New Providence All-stars and the University of Mississippi taking on The Real Deal Shockers.

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