Some members of the basketball squad that will take part in the Windward Islands tournament in Grenada.

ST. VINCENT: – This country’s national men’s basketball team leave for Grenada on Thursday for the Windward Islands Basketball competition July 2-4 even as the local federation struggles to raise an additional $34,000 to send a female squad to Puerto Rico.

Four overseas-based players are among an 18-member squad, including five officials, which will defend the title that SVG won when the Windward Islands tournament was last held in 1999.

But while head coach Junior Sutton was optimistic about the team’s chances of retaining the men’s title, federation president Cleophas Glynn said the association needed financial assistance to send the ladies to the Centro Basketball competition.

The tournament, slated for late July is a qualifier for the London 2012 Olympics, the Pan American Games and the Central America and Caribbean (CAC) Games.

Glynn said the federation had received assistance from the National Olympic Society in raising $20,000 so far and would “make a last ditch appeal to the authorities” to raise the remaining funds.

He said the team also faced “technical difficulties” as it tries to make it to the Puerto Rico tournament and risk heavy fines and disciplinary actions if it does not participate in the tournament.

Meanwhile Sutton spoke highly of the men’s team, describing it as “a fabulous group of guys” who have “a vast amount of talent … a vast amount of experience”. (Go to the homepage to subscribe to I Witness-News)

Sutton is a member o f the Bequia All Stars club, which has travelled and played extensively within the Caribbean.

“I have knowledge of sort of what to expect throughout the region and so do most of these players. But, we have no firsthand knowledge really of what we will be coming up against with Grenada, Dominica, St. Lucia, whoever,” he told I Witness-News.

“But, just by the look of what we have here and what we have done in practice so far, I say our chances are really, really good. The players are really, really experienced. There isn’t that much youth in the team but there is a lot of athleticism and experience. Hopefully, we can use that to our advantage.

“I know a lot of countries, their older players have retired and put down their sneakers but we are fortunate to have a lot of our experienced older players still playing and still in good shape,” he added.

The overseas-based players include Alexus Foyle, one of the most experienced members of the squad, who will go to Grenada after a stint in Taiwan’s Senior Basketball League earlier this year.

The other overseas based players are Ajani Edwards, Kishon Bishop, and Richardo Coombs.

Coach Sutton is expecting his team to play well and not disrespect SVG.

Lezlo McKenzie, Ishama McKree, Glen Smith, Orlando Fergusson, Kendal Cumberbatch, Damien Ottley, Oral Roberts, assistant coach Randolph Williams and Stevenson Taylor complete the squad.

The officials are Manager Karel Branble, Head Coach Junior Sutton, Physio-therapist Denis Byam, federation president Cleophas Glynn and General Secretary Darron John.

Sutton said that he would be expecting “professional representation” of SVG when the team travels to Grenada. (Follow I Witness-News on Facebook)

“My philosophy is that is if you come to play for your country, you come to play with respect; you come to play with the highest level of discipline possible and to represent your colours with true pride as Vincentians.

“It has been know throughout the Caribbean region that a lot of players go abroad and represent their country and sometimes disrespect their country in the process. A big part of my goal is not just to win but to instil a certain level of national pride,” he told I Witness-News.