By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Four BVI basketball players—Mahkayla Pickering, Omar Walker, Demoi Bradley and Shauliqua Fahie—returned from a five day NBA Authentic Experience in New York, after joining their regional counterparts from Antigua and Barbuda Barbados, Bermuda, Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos Islands, as the top players advancing from the Digicel NBA Elite Camp held here, October 7-9.
The players got to see reigning NBA champions Cavaliers vs New York Knicks game, toured the NBA office and met NBA Legends, Corey Maggette, Allison Feaster, Drew Gooden, Stacey Lovelace, Brian Cardinal and Troy Murphy. They also visited an NBA store, toured the city, participated in scrimmages and played in a game against Rutgers Prep.
“For me, it was a very amazing experience,” Pickering said. “I did things I never thought I’d do like being on a subway going to an NBA game. That game was just amazing—better than on television—you could feel it, feel the crowd, the energy. The Rockefeller Center, amazingly high and the cold, that’s on a different level.”
Pickering said it was great to see her favorite team, the Cleveland Cavaliers play, especially seeing Kyrie Irwin in action and LeBron James dunking on opponents. “That was real. Seeing it on TV, I think it’s just entertainment but seeing it in person, I knew it’s real.”
Walker described seeing and NBA game as interesting. “Seeing the players play in real life is not the same as actually seeing them playing on TV, they move a lot faster,” he noted. “Kyrie Irvin looks more amazing in real life than on TV, the TV doesn’t really do him justice.”
Bradley of Virgin Gorda, said it was like a dream. “I really couldn’t believe it when I saw LeBron James walk out on the court, but, it was a really good experience—better than watching it on television.”
Fahie expressed similar sentiments. “It’s an experience I’ll never forget,” she said.
The scrimmage game against Rutgers Prep was enlightening for the players. Fahie said it was a good game. “My shots were dropping and I like how I played,” she said.
While she enjoyed the game, Pickering she thought the team played well and had good chemistry for a team playing together for the first time. “I really liked the competition,” she said.
The game, Walker said, showed his strengths and weaknesses. “It showed me that I have to be a lot fitter, because the guys up there run a lot, he pointed out. “That was the only place I would say they did better than us and of course that the play together but I think our team played well.”
Between their departure and return, coach Jason Edwin said he could see how each of the players matured, by the specific questions they asked the professional and he thinks it cemented their idea of what it will take to get to the next level.
Katasha Melville, a Digicel marketing and sponsorship executive, said it was not only about basketball but, experiencing the USA culture and she liked that the players had the opportunity to speak with NBA legends.
“I was telling a parent, that even after basketball, even after you’re not being picked for a team, what’s next and the legends were able to address that,” she said. “The legends were all working in the NBA office—still a part of the game but from another standpoint. They also stressed the importance of education and, that it goes together with the game. If you want to succeed in the game, you must focus on your studies and school work so, that was very important.”