The third annual Cayman Classic basketball tournament got underway in Grand Cayman on Monday, 25th November, after a launch ceremony was held on the Governor’s Lawn at the Westin on the previous evening, (24th November).
The tournament, which started in 2017 has grown leaps and bounds over the course of its evolution and is now one of the top draws for tourism in the Cayman Islands, attracting some 1500 – 2,000 visitors over a 3 to 4-day period; translating to roughly 2 million dollars in revenue for the Island.
President of Cayman Sports, as well as Technical Director of Basketball for the Cayman Islands, Coach Victor O’Garro told the Caymanian Times what made the Cayman Islands such an attractive destination for the tournament.
“Number one is our pristine beauty, number two is the warmth of the people, and number three is the safety of the Island.”
Known by the Caymanian people as, ‘Coach Voot’ for his years of steadfast service to the development of the sport of Basketball, Mr. O’Garro noted that the Chief Executive Officer of the tournament, Mr. Joe Wright works closely with our representatives here in the Cayman Islands and the undertaking is very much a collaborative effort.
There are 8 teams annually that come for the tournament, featuring roughly 120 of the most promising players in the world, and there are 4 games played each day for 4 days.
“It’s cut throat Basketball,” explained Mr. O’Garro, who added that the players had come straight out of some of the best colleges and amateur associations in America.
Currently, Cayman has never had a Division 1 player but this could change soon, as two players from the Territory – Kai Robinson, Joshua O’Garro, are poised to be potential candidates for the honor.
Coach O’Garro was modest and downplayed the fact that the latter is his grandson and comes from a family of basketballers.
“We are hoping they can come in 2024,” he noted, whilst adding - “kudos must be given to the government for their support of this tournament. This has been a great addition to the Cayman Islands’ sporting calendar.”
Some of the players had never heard of the Cayman Islands before making the journey for the tournament and for many others it was their first time visiting, according the coach. He said he was confident that for many it would not be their last.
In his comments, CEO of the tournament, Mr. Joe Wright expressed just how special the tournament is becoming and the joy he felt about being able to host the event in the Cayman Islands.
“The setting is amazing. It’s just a great destination and the tournament has now become a great recruiting tool for some of the top colleges in the United States. We knew it was ‘gonna’ be a homerun.
“Our main goal now is to get Television in the US to come onboard and four high level schools have already signed on for next year.”
Victor O’Garro, (Coach Voot), played professional basketball from 1973 to 1975 and is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame for Trinidad and Tobago. Because of his outstanding, professional career, he was awarded the Hummingbird Medal, a prestigious honor bestowed upon the nation’s best basketball player.
Joe Wright played college Basketball for the University of Kansas. As a shooting guard he shared the court with teammates such as Jeff Hornacek of the Utah Jazz and Waymond Tisdale.