Matthew Pierre Basketball Academy (MPBA) captured the first title of the BPTT Mayaro Basketball League, winning the Under-19 round-robin crown when the league launched its season at the Mayaro Multi-Purpose Sports Facility last Saturday.
The MPBA, managed and coached by its founder, Matthew Pierre, a former standout national player, outclassed the plucky Arouca-based New Age Lions 24-13 in the final play-off to establish themselves as early favourites to capture the major trophies and awards at stake this year. The academy is fielding teams in all three divisions of the league, Under-16 and 19 and Seniors.
The BPTT Mayaro Basketball League is organised by the South Corner Basketball Foundation and facilitated by the All-Mayaro Sports Foundation. This year's launch was highlighted by a colourful parade of teams registered for the various competitions.
Pierre, who is the community liaison officer for sponsors BP T&T (BPTT), expressed the hope that the competition would be the best since the league was revived six years ago.
“With the experience, we have had over the past six years, I believe we are in store for the most exciting and competitive basketball ever. This league has unearthed many outstanding players over the years and we hope to continue the tradition as we build from strength to strength. In addition, it brings out the best in our communities through high levels of discipline and sportsmanship. Investment in sports is one of the main planks of our corporate philosophy at BPTT and I can give you the assurance that we will continue in that vein in the years ahead,” Pierre assured players, officials and spectators.
Patrice Charles, acting Director of Sports and Physical Education, Ministry of Sports & Youth Affairs, lauded BPTT for its partnership with the community in various sporting disciplines, noting that corporate support was essential in the development of sport in the communities of T&T. He said the Ministry was happy to lend its support to all endeavours which promoted worthwhile sporting activity and appealed to the players to “play well, play fair and respect the call of the officials”.
Teams registered for this season are Matthew Pierre Basketball Academy, New Age Lions, 500 Hawks Basketball Academy, Mayaro Secondary School, RLRA Ambassadors, Crusaders, RUFF, Quash Trace, Police, Mayaro Boys, Manzanilla, Grande All-Stars and Manzanilla Secondary School.
Originally intended to nurture talent in the wider Mayaro community, the BPTT Mayaro Basketball League has extended its reach much further afield, with teams coming from as far as Sangre Grande, Biche, Princess Town, Rio Claro and Chaguanas.
One such team is 500 Hawks Basketball Academy, which hails all the way from Edinburgh 500, Chaguanas. Karim Bilal, coach of the academy, said the youths of the community were excited to play the sport since it offered great possibilities for a future professional career.
“The academy was formed only three years ago and we have 30 young players on board who are intent on gaining sporting scholarships, so they are also serious about their studies. The Mayaro league is one of the best organised and managed in the country and it can be a major stepping stone for the boys to fulfil their dreams,” said Bilal.