TT's Jelani Blackett and Jael Lewis, of the Maloney Pacers Basketball Club and Youth Development Programme, participated in the fourth edition of the International Basketball
Federation (FIBA) Americas Youth Development Programme (YDP) Elite Camp, from August 8-11 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The two local prospects were among the top five players that were selected by the national federation in May to represent TT at the camp which was initially scheduled to take place in July.
The YDP is staging several camps for young, elite athletes between the ages of 15-17, in various countries. It is one of the key pillars of the FIBA Americas and is geared towards the development of elite players in the region to track and monitor young talents, and raise the quality of national teams at the forthcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup and Olympics.
In a change of events, FIBA made a decision to host two separate camps in order to provide a greater opportunity for all the national federations. Through information submitted by the National Basketball Federation of TT (NBFTT), FIBA selected Blackett and Lewis out of the TT group to be a part of the first installment.
The first camp involved 24 players from Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Suriname, Dominica, Haiti, St Lucia, Antigua/Barbuda, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and TT. Players were exposed to daily training sessions that targeted their motor skills, strength and conditioning, further development of the basic skills of game, and tested their cognitive ability through in-game strategies and scrimmages.
Lewis, who was ranked number one by the NBFTT, was looking forward to his participation in the elite camp since his selection in May. When asked about his experience, Lewis replied, “I had a great opportunity to showcase my talent to the FIBA coaches, and build relationships with players from the different countries."
He continued, “Overall it was a learning experience for me. We learned to manage our time, be more organised, and have more of a professional approach to the sport. Now I know what it takes and the work I need to put in to make it the next time the opportunity arises.”
Sharing similar views was Blackett. "It was great to experience basketball at such a high level, playing against tougher competition, and being exposed to new drills and plays on the court.”
The other three elite players from TT are Nickolai Mills of the Stories of Success Basketball Academy, Jadon Daniel of Maloney Pacers and Nwadike Felix of the Detour Shak Attack Basketball Development Programme.
According to FIBA, the remaining three of the top five may automatically be selected to participate in the second YDP elite camp to be held in October/November with the host country to be determined.