Runnin’ Rebels look to youth

May 11, 2023
Pete Matthews
Pete Matthews

UWI Runnin' Rebels will be forced to bank on youth for the upcoming National Basketball League (NBL) that is slated to restart in the final week of May, the first staging since the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to head coach Pete Matthews, their experienced players who participated in the last edition have left, leaving him to search for younger players.

"Preparation has been a bit slow, as one of the things that we have to recognise is that, because of COVID, basketball has been slow in coming back over the past four years, and the crop of players that we had for the last NBL has depleted drastically. So, we're entering the NBL with young players, and finding young players is proving to be a challenge right now," said Matthews.

He added that leading up to the tournament's restart, the coaching staff has been tasked with grooming players who would have participated in the recently concluded school's league.

The youth of Matthews' line-up makes it hard to grade his chances, but the recruitment process is still in progress with the ongoing Division One League.

"What we have to be doing is grooming the young ones, who would have had the chance of coming through the school's league. It's a bit difficult and slow just because we had to change out so many players. It's extremely hard to even rate it right now, because we have to be looking at what's in the Division One League currently being played, and see if we can recruit players from that," said Matthews.

Matthews said his mindset entering the 2023 league isn't entirely about winning but rebuilding the Runnin' Rebels' basketball programme.

"I'm not even looking in win direction, but in the direction of revitalising the team. I'm trying to look at bringing back basketball overall in Jamaica. It has been slow, so we have to get to the league and see what we have before we consider, or even start talking about winning," said Matthews.

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