TEAM DOMINICA at 2023 ALBA Games. Coach Yannick Regis back/far right. Photo courtesy Sports Division Facebook Page
TEAM DOMINICA at 2023 ALBA Games. Coach Yannick Regis back/far right. Photo courtesy Sports Division Facebook Page

Few Dominicans may have heard about the ALBA Games before 2023, until Dominica sent a 130+-strong contingent to Caracas, Venezuela, for the 5th edition of the ALBA Games, staged from 21st to 29th April 2023. In addition to the officials, Dominica's contingent included teams/representatives in 10 sports disciplines, viz. billiards, boxing, chess, cycling, dominoes, football, table tennis, track & field, volleyball, and traditional 5x5 boys' basketball.

The inaugural edition of the ALBA Games was held in Havana, Cuba, in 2005. Since then, it was decided that Cuba and Venezuela would alternate in hosting editions every two years. However, there was a lull in the staging of the event from 2013-2021, and this year the Games returned to Venezuela.

BACK TO THE ARCHIVES: From the 1960s, 'national' basketball teams representing the Nature Island have engaged teams from the region and the USA in friendlies, participated in the Windward Islands Basketball Tournament from 1975, the CARICOM Basketball Championships from 1981, and OECS Basketball Championships from 1984.

DOMINICA IN PAST REGIONAL YOUTH TOURNAMENTS: The year 1997 saw our Nature Island Boys competing for the first time in the CARICOM Under-19 Basketball Tournament in Jamaica. Dominica ended with two wins – over Trinidad & Tobago (66-63) and Grenada (72-57) – and four losses.

Nineteen years later, Dominica participated in the 2016 Caribbean Basketball Confederation Under-16 Championships held in Guyana but emerged winless with at least four blow-outs, ranging from 35 points to 104 points.

Dominica, since 1987, has been participating in the Boys' Basketball segment of the Windward Islands Schools Games (WISG), which caters for Under-20 players. The Nature Boys won several editions of Boys Basketball, including the first four, i.e., performing a 4-peat from 1987 through1990!

In 2010 Girls' Basketball was introduced into the Games. The Sisserou Girls have been participating, placing second annually for the first eight years until 2018 when they won WISG Girls Basketball in grand style with an unbeaten run!

NATIONAL COLOURS AT ALBA BASKETBALL, 2023: This year, for the very first time, Dominica was represented in an international basketball tournament, which involved teams from the Caribbean region and Central and South America. And this was done by our Under-17 Basketball team at the 5th Edition of the ALBA Games.

Flying Dominica's flag - which has been described as one of the most beautiful national flags in the world - while clutching a basketball were the following players: Zack Bastien, Shermon Casimir, Charlton Charles, Meshach Du Boulay, Omari Ettienne, Emphraim Joseph, Dartanian Lataille, Caelan Paul, Joshua Paul, Christian Scotland and K'Omah Telemacque. Yannick Regis coached the team with Adenauer "Warshwoa" Douglas serving as assistant coach; both Yannick and Adenauer have been coaching youth players for several years.

Five teams, namely Bolivia, Dominica, Nicaragua, and St. Lucia and hosts Venezuela participated in the Under-17 Category of the basketball segment of ALBA Games 2023.

TEAM'S PERFORMANCE: Team Dominica emerged from the basketball segment of the 2023 ALBA Games with one win and three losses. They went down to Bolivia (70-82) in their first game and to Nicaragua (46-64) in their third game. Their second game, against 'Sister-Island' St. Lucia, was a run-away for the Nature Boys, winning that encounter by a big blow-out score of 132-29.

Dominica's fourth and final game was against Venezuela. Still, the Nature Boys succumbed to the superior play of the Venezuelans, who blew us out 116-41.

LEADING AGGREGATE SCORERS: The top four aggregate scorers for Dominica were Meshach Du Boulay, 70 Pts (incl. 40 vs St. Lucia); Omari Ettienne, 55; Dartanian Lataille, 54; and Zack Bastien, 44.

REMARKS: Team Dominica did not win the Under-17 component of the ALBA Games 2023, but they took home a few positives. They scored a total of 289 Pts while conceding 291; recorded a triple-digit score; prevented a team from scoring any points in one of the quarters of their game; and blew out an opponent by 103 points (132-29), with a score that was 4.55 times that of the opponent. And, of course, they gained some exposure engaging international teams.

Assistant Coach Douglas, however, notes that there was too much individual play and that the members of the squad need to learn to play as a team. He also noted that there should be less emphasis on zone defence.

Jump Ball wishes to thank the Sports Division for providing the list of names of the basketball contingent at the Games and the team's Assistant Coach for giving information on Dominica's third and fourth games—some other data sourced from a few earlier Jump Ball articles.