Photo by Alex Masters. Bermuda will defend its gold medal at the 2011 Island Games.
Photo by Alex Masters. Bermuda will defend its gold medal at the 2011 Island Games.

Retaining Island Games gold remains a top commitment of the Bermuda Basketball Association, according to men’s national team coach Roderick Spencer.

Avoiding potential conflicts of the national programme between the Caribbean Basketball Championship and the Island Games, the BBA executive have decided the Island Games team will be the priority.

Originally the national team was slated to go to the Caribbean Championships, which drew protests from some of the island’s top players, including European star Sullivan Phillips.

But with the election of a new executive the focus has switched back to defending the gold medal they won two years ago.

A squad of 20 players has been invited to train and will be whittled down to 12.

Coach Spencer said in choosing players “For the Caribbean Basketball Championships, we will look at the Island Games team. Those (players) that are not eligible, unable to attend or injured will be replaced by players that are part of the national programme top 20.”

If the dates of the Caribbean Championships do clash with the Island Games, then the coaching staff will evaluate from those not selected from the Island Games team and if it’s viable to send a team to the Caribbean Championships.

Spencer said: “Our goal for both tournaments is to win.”

After discussing with his assistant coaches and the coaches for the Elite City League (ECL), which is currently underway, Spencer chose an initial group of 37 players to try out for places in the national squad.

Squad cuts

Of that 37, the coaching staff will select 20 players in the next few weeks for the national team for the remainder of the year.

Spencer said the inaugural season of the ECL would serve to evaluate the coaches, as they would each have similarly talented teams, while also providing challenges to the players who would have to display versatility and adaptability in roles, positions and working with new teammates and coaches.

The ECL holds its matches regularly through the week.