(SNO) – Saint Lucia made a long-awaited return to international basketball competition this weekend, after not having played as a national team since finishing dead last at the Windward Islands Tournament in 2010.
The occasion was the 2021 FIBA Americup Pre-qualifier, being hosted in the Surinamese capital of Paramaribo.
Sadly, Saint Lucia got out of the gate with a near 20-point drubbing, going down 61-80 to the home team.
It’s easy to point to ballhandling as the major culprit for the loss. Saint Lucia was exceedingly careless with the basketball, giving up a massive 36 turnovers, as compared to 19 for their opponents. Even worse, a third of their turnovers were unforced, as Suriname had “just” 24 steals.
Leading the way for the victors and the home team was Dancell Leter, who tallied 23 points on 7/10 from the field, and added six rebounds.
For Saint Lucia, overseas-based 6’4″ guard Yandell Denis (Park Point University) led the way with 15 points on 6/13 shooting. Unfortunately, he was the only Saint Lucian player in double figures. He also had a team-high eight turnovers, perhaps due to his lack of familiarity with his teammates.
Meanwhile, fresh off his freshman season at Jacksonville College, 6’6″ forward Joel Polius had 12 rebounds as the Saint Lucians out-rebounded the home team big time, 52 to 35. Marcian Calderon and Ron Dumurville had eight rebounds apiece, whilst Dumurville added six turnovers.
Another positive for Team Saint Lucia was that they actually shot marginally better than their opposition, despite clunkers from Dumurville and Ande Louison, who went a combined 4/16.
Group A action continues with Saint Lucia playing Grenada on Tuesday, St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Wednesday, and Guyana on Thursday.
Saint Lucia’s team is almost all home based, and severely lacking in high level competitive experience, but one hopes they can improve from here on in.