Jamaica Gleaner /  

Jamaica Basketball Association (JABA) interim president Calvin Martin has refuted reports that the National Basketball League (NBL) could be abandoned midway the competition because of a lack of sufficient funds.

JABA received $1.5 million from the Sports Development Foundation (SDF) for sponsorship of the tournament recently, but it has been suggested that this will not be enough to see the league through and that there is a possibility of it stopping midway the tournament..

But Martin insists “that is not going to happen’.

“The league not going to stop in the middle of the season, so they can forget that. That is not going to happen,” he stated.

“The critical area of fees for official is covered, and that is only reason the league would stop in the middle of the competition, so that is not going to happen,” he commented.

He said the league is moving to generate the remaining funds to cover other costs associated with prize money and venue rental.

“The proposal is to have incentives. But it is all going to depend on if we can close that gap, because that is the part that will give us some problems but we are looking for corporate sponsors to close the funding gap,” Martin said.

“There are discussions going on … All the teams have basically completed their basic registration and the registration was what caused the delay … late registration will continue and that will remain open until the mid-season final,” he said. “But we expect a smooth start, all officials are in and all other things including the teams are ready for Saturday. I really feel good about what I see.”

In the opening game at the National Arena, Runnin Rebels will go up against the last champions of the league, Urban Knights, at 6 p.m. Spanish Town Spartans will face St George’s Slayers in the second game at 7:45.

Runnin Rebels are the favourites to top the league but coach Pete Matthews remains cautious although his team will parade experienced players such as international player Kimani Ffriend and Javon Bailey and youngsters Javon Obrian and Jordan Earle.

“I don’t like it (favourites’ tag),” Matthews said. “We have been preparing for some time but because the sport was out for so long it takes a while to get back so we are taking our time … But I expect a good game from Urban Knights.”

Meanwhile, Kevin Alexander, assistant coach of Urban Knights, said the club was in a transitional phase and will look to the experience Fernando Young, Omar Barnes and Tommy McDonald to lead their charge this season.

“We know what it takes to be on top of the mountain top … We just have to prepare and we are about 75 per cent,” Alexander said.

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