Wednesday, 26 August 2009

U.S. Virgin Islands Preview

Complete with projected starting lineup

Confident USVI hoops squad opens today against Uruguay in FIBA Americas Championships in Puerto Rico

ST. THOMAS - The Virgin Islands men's national basketball team will open their competition at the FIBA Americas Championship today in Puerto Rico against Uruguay.

Head coach Tevester Anderson said that after a week of training on St. Thomas the men had two more good practices in San Juan and are ready for the international competition.

"I feel like our kids are really focused," Anderson said. "They're hungry and they have the right to be hungry."

The V.I. has had a lot of success in international competition in recent years, placing as high as second at the 2008 Centro Basket event in Cancun, Mexico. That silver medal qualified the V.I. for this year's FIBA Americas tournament.

The top four teams from FIBA Americas will move on to the FIBA World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2010.

The V.I. has not yet qualified for a FIBA World Championships, but Anderson said that this team is as talented as any he has coached in recent years.

Anderson said the V.I. must control the tempo against Uruguay.

"They're a big, strong team and if they slow the game down and get into a half-court game it could be trouble," Anderson said. "We have to set the tempo and play at a fast speed and not turn the ball over. Then we'll be successful."

Anderson said the current V.I. squad has a strong backcourt.

Co-captain Kevin Sheppard will lead the starting five on tonight from guard. Fellow guard Walter Hodges will also bring the speed to the floor.

Forwards Jason Edwin and Cuthbert Victor and center Kitwana Rhymer round out the starting five.

The game tips off at 1:30 p.m. and will be televised live on public television channel 13, WTJX.

The Virgin Islands will face Puerto Rico at 9 p.m. on Thursday and Canada at 4 p.m. on Friday.

The territory's final scheduled pool game is against Mexico at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. All the preliminary games will be aired on WTJX.

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