Hoops vets want to lead the way in Gotland

Shaad O'Garro (blue) and Davion Cotterell (white) at a practice before leaving for the Island Games.

The Cayman Islands Men’s National Basketball Team have never won a gold medal at the NatWest Island Games and that’s something coaches and players want to change this year in Gotland.

After missing the last games in 2015 in favour of the Caribbean Basketball Confederation Championships that year at which they finished a disappointing ninth-place, the men’s team is back at the Island Games, where they won silver in 2001 and 2003.

Leading the way this time will be Jorge Ebanks and Samuel O’Garro, both of whom have been playing professionally in Europe.

“It’s always a privilege to come home and play with the national team, representing the country in the best way you could,” Ebanks told CaymanSportsBuzz.com.

He and O’Garro both say they plan to use their experience to help other members of the squad.

Jorge Ebanks (blue) guarded by Arin Taylor (white) during a scrimmage.

“We try to teach them as much as we have learned, try to teach them everything I’ve experienced and pass it down as best as I could and hopefully they will follow along,” Ebanks said. “As long as we lead by example, they would get a good understanding of what we want from them as a group on the national team,” the 31-year-old guard added.

O’Garro agreed that experience is the best teacher. “Being able to have played overseas already, I have a feel for what the guys may do. It would be good for me to help the guys and share a bit of my knowledge,” he said.

Among the rookies on the squad hoping to learn from the veterans and contribute to the success on the court is 18-year-old Arin Taylor. “It’s a blessing. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I’ve always looked up to these guys growing up and I’m excited about the opportunity,” he said.

Head Coach Ed Pellot-Rosa knows it’s a big task to show that Cayman is better than the seventh-place at the last NatWest Island Games they competed back in 2011 in Isle of Wight. He hopes to instil a winning culture among his players. “We’re looking forward to representing Cayman proudly. Gold is the plan,” he said.

Pellot-Rosa said he’s very impressed with the improvement that the squad has shown since the 2015 CBC championships. He said they have been working hard and have bought into the up-tempo style of play, which they hope will be to their advantage.

“I feel like what we are trying to establish with the talent we have, up-tempo plays to our favour. We’re trying to control the tempo and come away with some wins,” the coach said in an interview with CaymanSportsBuzz.com.

Samuel O’Garro (file photo)

O’Garro is coming off back-to-back championship runs in recent months, winning a title with his German club before returning home to be an integral part of Sol Blazers successful title defence earlier this month.

That taste of winning leaves him wanting more. “I want to win. This team that we have here, I’m pretty confident and with me and Jorge leading it, we should be fine,” he said.

Team Cayman is grouped with Gibraltar, Isle of Man and Isle of Wight for the preliminary round. Their first test is against Gibraltar on Sunday, 25 June.

The squad is: Jorge Ebanks (captain), Samuel O’Garro (vice-captain), Deandre Simpson, Shaad O’Garro, Davion Cotterell, Jake Whittaker, Joshua Dikau, Arin Taylor, Juawon Ebanks, NiiAkwei General-Vanderpuije, Omari Corbin, and Adam Milburn.



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