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Cayman Islands will defend its title in the Island Games with a New Generation
GIBRALTAR - The National Basketball Team of Cayman Islands arrives this Sunday at the XVIII NatWest International Island Games with only one thing in mind, defending the championship they won in 2017. The tournament that will run from July 7-12 will be held at the peninsula of Gibraltar, a territory in the southeastern part of Spain.
The team of the Cayman Islands Federation [CIBA] has as main rival this year the local team of Gibraltar, team which they beat tightly [82-80] in the final of the last edition, after losing with them in the group phase. However, already has several months of arduous preparation to be at its best form for the tournament. It has also incorporated new talents to guide its long-term development plan.
Eleven teams will be participating in the tournament in three groups. Group A (Gibraltar, Gotland, and Menorca), Group B (Faroe Islands, Guernsey, Jersey, and Saaremaa) and Group C (Åland, Cayman Islands, Isle of Man and Isle of Wight).
"It took us some time to put everything in order, to think as one, but we already did it and now it's looking like we're ready to capture [the championship] again," said Samuel O'Garro, captain of the team, and with vast experience in the senior team, being the second best scorer of the CBC Championship 2016 with 16.6 points per game.
Several young players were included in the squad, creating a combination of energy and fresh legs with the rationale and experience of some veterans.
"Some of these young people are still in [high] school, they are growing talents. They will take us to the next level, they will bring that spark we need, the shot and the athletic ability," added O'Garro in a video posted on the federation's website.
The veteran added that "These guys have arrived with serious talent. This generation is very good. They came and they are working really hard, they are showing us that energy that we are going to need."
Among that group of new players is Joshua O'garro, 17 years-old, Samuel's nephew who said he was happy with the privilege of not only playing with his family but doing so while representing his country.
The Cayman Islands won the title in 2017 in Sweden, defeating Gibraltar which this year will host the event.
"We know that they will be there waiting for us, probably in the Final. But we are anticipating it and we are prepared for them. We already beat them once and we will beat them again," said O'Garro.
On the other hand, the women's tournament will have seven teams; Gotland, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Jersey, and Menorca, who will play once against in the preliminary phase.
The Cayman Islands women’s team won gold medals in 2001 and 2005, bronze in 2003, eighth in 2007, fifths in 2015 and fourth in 2017.
"It will take some commitment. They have to show pride and dedication to the sport. It is very difficult to get out of work and come to practice. At the end of the day you're drained, but it's worth representing your country, " said the head coach of the Women’s National Team, Wendy Manzanares to the Cayman Compass.
It is a women's team that, like the men, will have some veterans but they have also included several young players, one of them 15 years old so that they can have their first international experiences.
In its 18th edition, the International Island Games include 14 sports, including the basketball tournament that is regulated by the Basketball Association of Amateur of Gibraltar [GABBA], affiliated with FIBA in 1986. Participating countries from all over the continent, including Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, North America, and the Caribbean.