President of the National Basketball Federation of Trinidad and Tobago (NBFTT) Clair Mitchell said her organisation has formally signalled its intention to compete in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) 3×3 AmeriCup 2021.
The FIBA Americas Zone Board has named Trinidad and Tobago among a list of 25 confirmed national federations eligible to compete in the tournament and Mitchell confirmed last week the NBFTT’s intention to participate in the event, which will signal a return of competitive basketball in the region.
The Covid-19 pandemic halted all major competitions in 2020 and sporting organisations are still trying to get their respective sports back on track.
Regional cricket resumed this month in Antigua with Cricket West Indies hosting the CG Insurance Super50 Cup while CONCACAF Would Cup qualifiers are scheduled to kick off next month.
Locally, contact sports are still on hold meaning there is no football, cricket, basketball or rugby taking place at the club level, however government has given the all-clear for national teams preparing for international competitions to resume normal activities geared towards team preparations.
Scheduled for November 2021, the 2021 FIBA 3×3 AmeriCup will see 12 senior men’s and 12 senior women’s national teams competing in the main draw.
Through the successful hosting of local 3×3 tournaments in 2019, T&T earned eligibility for FIBA 3x3 official national team competitions in 2021.
Due to the number of eligible teams, the FIBA 3×3 AmeriCup 2021 will have to be played with a main draw and a qualifier.
Teams will be assigned to the main draw of the qualifier based on the FIBA 3×3 Federation ranking in the respective category as of November 1, 2020 with the best-ranked teams and the FIBA 3×3 AmeriCup 2021 hosts qualifying directly to the main draw, and all remaining teams entering the qualifiers.
As of November 1, 2020, T&T were ranked 16th overall in the Americas Zone of 43 national federations in 3×3 basketball. As a result, the country has qualified for the 3x3 Open AmeriCup Qualifiers (male and female) which will be held in May - June, 2021.
“It will be exciting,” Mitchell said of the competition, noting that NBFTT wants to field both Under-23 male and female teams and once the Ministry of Health approves their request, they will be having trials to select the national teams.
National team registration will open once the hosts for the FIBA 3×3 AmeriCup 2021 are confirmed.
In terms of team selection and preparations, Mitchell said: “The screening and ranking points qualification process is due to start on March 14 once the Ministry of Sport responds to our request for a training venue.”
She said the NBFTT was hopeful of getting government approval.
“People (the basketball fraternity) are longing to return to the sport they love and 3x3 is an abbreviated version of the game which is perfect to play during the pandemic,” Mitchell added.
The NBFTT local competitions normally run from March to July each year and Mitchell indicated that, “some zones are actually waiting to run as soon as conditions allow”.
Being a full contact sport, Mitchell explained that the starting number for a league match is about 39 persons made up for 24 players, five officials, four coaches and six administrators.
During the Covid-19 down time, Mitchell said the organisation was focusing on capacity building and online training for referees and officials as well as virtual clinics for coaches and players.