Next week, the Zero Tolerance Basketball Club of St. Thomas will be heading back to Turks and Caicos to defend its Caribbean championship title and, this time around, coach Boyd Todman said that a change in the tournament structure has allowed the team to shore up its roster.
Last year, the club used every player on its team to stave off the Dominican Republic in the inaugural 2016 Rising Stars BC Caribbean Classic Basketball Tournament, which they ended up winning by just one point.
“It was a round robin tournament and the Dominican Republic, they beat us the first time around,” Todman said during an interview with the Source this week. “But I told the guys that we were going to face them again and, that time, they had to win, and I don’t think they could have played any better. We were within five points in the last few minutes of the game, but they dug deep and were able to pull it off.”
While Todman said that as the defending champs, Zero Tolerance would be a “target” for other teams, he explained that changes in the tournament structure have only benefitted the club.
“Last year, the tournament was for players under 17 and that made a difference because were only able to carry 10 of our guys,” he said. “But this time, it’s under 18, so we were able to make a few changes to our team. We have one guy, for example, that’s 6’4”, so that will give us some height inside, and we have another that’s just one of the best guards out there. With hope that with them, we’ll be able to make the championships again.”
As the team continues to prepare, Todman said there are only two issues: a new team from the Bahamas that wasn’t in the tournament before, and being able to get his players more familiar with International Basketball Federation (FIBA) rules that are different from they’re used to playing on-island in school leagues.
“First, we don’t know anything about this team from the Bahamas, and what they have in terms of players,” Todman said. “And they’re the first team we’re playing. So, we’re trying to be as prepared as possible going in. Second, our guys are play here according to our high school rules, but with FIBA, there are all kinds of changes. The three-point range is different, for example, and it’s a lot rougher and, the last time around, our players weren’t accustomed to what they faced when they went out on the court.”
Todman said he’s been around FIBA tournaments for years, but paid closer attention at last year’s tournament, which helped with training over the past few months.
“Now the guys are going in knowing that it’s going to be different and that’s an advantage,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll make it to the final round, which would also give us more time to map out anything we need to resolve beforehand.”
The team heads out on March 22 for the tournament, which begins the next day. Todman said that in the meantime, the community can help with donations by emailing [email protected] or calling (340) 626-4440 or (340) 690-1614.