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Tuesday, July 16, 2024


TOLUCA, Mexico – The Virgin Islands received an official invitation to the Tournament of Americas, paving the way for the territory to compete in a World Championships qualifier.
The Virgin Islands, Mexico, Panama and Puerto Rico will advance out of the Central America and Caribbean Region. The United States and Canada will represent North America. The South America Tournament is scheduled to start next week. Four teams will represent the South America Region.
"This is significant," V.I. Basketball Federation president Raymond "Usie" Richards said after the Argentina Organizing Committee gave a presentation at the Plaza Lancaster outside of Mexico City over the weekend.
"This will be great exposure for our federation," Richards said. "For many, we will be the Cinderella team. Our players will step up. If we can get the players that we want, we will do more than participate."
The V.I. team was in Mexico for the Centro Basket Tournament. After losing to Puerto Rico and then a win over Honduras, the team lost to host Mexico.
As for the Tournament of Americas, the Virgin Islands is expected to have NBA players Raja Bell and David Vanterpool on the roster. Overseas pros Carl Thomas and 7-footer Jaja Richards are also expected to compete. Leon Trimmingham, who is competed in the Centro Basket Tournament, said he is unsure of his schedule for the tournament, which starts Aug. 16 in Neuquen, Argentina.
Trimmingham, a well-traveled overseas player, has played in Argentina. He is a former Most Valuable Player in the Australian and Venezuelan Leagues.
The Virgin Islands will advance to the Tournament of Americas for the first time in the eight-year existence of the event.
The Virgin Islands won the rights to play in the tournament after reaching the semifinals of the Centro Basket Tournament. The Virgin Islands finished the preliminary round 2-1, losing only to unbeaten Puerto Rico. The Dominican Republic was 1-2 and Honduras was 0-3 in Group B.
Mexico finished first in Group A and Panama was second.
The V.I.’s entrance into the Tournament of Americas spelled a new era in the Central American and Caribbean basketball zone, which had been ruled by Cuba, the reigning Centro Basket champion.
At Saturday's news conference promoting the Tournament of Americas, the Argentina organizing committee showed footage of host city Neuquen, which a two-hour flight from Buenos Aires.
Argentina organizers said six of the 10 Tournament of Americas team would qualify for the World Championships later this year in Indianapolis.

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