The Guyana Amateur Basketball Federation (GABF) was founded in 1961, Guyana (GUY). Its primary objective is to promote, supervise and govern the playing of amateur basketball in Guyana as stipulated by the International Amateur Basketball Federation (FIBA). In addition, to its local obligations, the GABF has the responsibility of preparing the male and female national teams, to represent the country at any regional or international tournaments. To be eligible to represent Guyana, players must be Guyanese nationals or the product of Guyanese parentage.
Clairmonte and Lawrence Taitt got together
with a group of friends which included “Reds” Perreira and Ken
Corsbie at the back of their father’s (Dr. Horace Taitt) yard
and introduced the game of basketball to Guyana.
Using the old Sapodilla tree to mount the backboard and ring in 1954 after earlier viewing Dr. James Smith’s 1891 invention (basketball), the boys were able to attract their friends to the game-giving and it achieved early popularity.
Ravens was the first team formed, coming out of the Taitt yard, followed by Wanderers, Clowns and Chinese (Cosmos) Sports Club which comprised Chinese Nationals.
In the earliest days, the game was played at the Police Drill Square, Eve Leary, the Youth Council Ground (GNS Sports Complex), Cosmos Sports Club, the sport on which the Bank of Guyana is now located, Queens College Auditorium and Parade Ground.
In the 1960’s, the game’s popularity gained momentum resulting in the formation of several new teams.
Eagles, Greek Warriors, Ferriers and Jugglers of McKenzie were the first to be formed and they were followed by Celtics and Matouk Royals who got their recruitment largely from secondary schools like Tutorial and Christ Church.
Schools also became involved in the game as early as 1963/1964 with Tutorial being the most prominent of the lot in the early `60s and Christ Church dominated around the end of the decade.
The `70s witnessed the disappearance of some clubs, the emergence of others and the widening of the games administration.
While Matouk Royals was one of the teams to make its exit form the basketball scene, Pacesetters, Old Fort Hi-Flyers of Georgetown, 76ers, Kings, YSM Hawks of Linden, Pro Royals and Houston of Berbice were among those to emerge.
At the same time sub-associations were established at Linden and Berbice to deal directly with the administration, promotions and development of the game in those townships.
The decade also witnessed an attempt by Guyana to organize a Caribbean Basketball Championship which achieved marginal success with Suriname winning the three nation event, Guyana placing second and Barbados in the cellar.
The `80s were marked by an abortive attempt to introduce professional basketball in Guyana which led to temporary schism when Robert Sam’s National Basketball League secured the services of many of the top players and Kerry Packer challenged the amateurs, winning and losing on the basketball court then eventually hoisting the white flag of surrender when the Guyana Basketball Federation proved invincible in the face of crisis.
The greatest plus for local basketball during this decade is undoubtedly the successful introduction and management of the first Caricom Basketball Championships (1981) which Guyana was very influential in setting up.
Guyana has however been unable to distinguish themselves on the basketball courts, internationally, despite being involved in tournaments in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, Cuba and Venezuela during the `70s as well as the Caricom Championships in the `80s.
The country’s best showing was at the inaugural Championships when Guyana placed third in a six team contest.
It is indeed a strange phenomenon when it is considered that there are First, Second and Third Divisions competitions, an Inter-Secondary School Championships which is played annually in May, Inter Sub-Association Tournament, Champion of Champions for the senior clubs and the Guyana Games tournament that Guyana has not done better at regional tournaments.
Georgetown has over the 34 years of basketball in Guyana continued to be the game’s pivot but is being strongly challenged by ‘out of city’ teams and players for the pivotal role and domination of the national team.
These are some outstanding achievements which Guyana can claim other than those referred to earlier.
Stanislaus Hadman, Hewley Harry and James Brusche were named on the Caricom Basketball team after the inaugural Championships and the only Guyanese to have achieved that feat in the history of the Tournament.
Hadman also achieved a 100 percent average shooting from the free throw line. Compton Hinds at 6 ft. 10 in. is still the tallest player ever to have played in the Championships. John Yates and Cecil Chin were the only FIBA referees (qualified) at the start of the Caricom Championships in 1981. National Head Coach Mike Brusche is perhaps the longest serving active member in the game in the Region having been associated with basketball for around three decades.
This year’s hosting of the 7th Caricom Basketball Championships will certainly be another highpoint in the history of Basketball in Guyana.
John “Fishy” Yates was always connected with basketball when he lived in Guyana.
Visibly, he refereed matches at Burnham Court and found himself on the bench for the Eagles ‘A’ team especially in the early `60s.
His greatest contribution to the game in Guyana and the Caribbean was the inauguration of the Caricom Basketball Championships.
“Fishy” had for most of his ‘basketball life’ been an administrator reaching the pinnacle between 1979 and 1982.
His exceptionally close relationships with the Latin American Basketball Confederation was indeed a fillip to his work as architect of the Regional Championships which came on stream in 1981.
As President of the Guyana Amateur Basketball Federation during the ’79-’82 period, Yates was almost single handedly responsible for the coming into being of the Caricom Basketball Championships, he was also greatly involved in the first attempt to set up a lasting regional tournament in 1976.
The creation of the Caricom Basketball Confederation (now renamed to Caribbean Basketball Confederation) must be credited to Yates’ initiative since he set up a meeting of officials from the six teams attending the first Championships.
The coming into being of the Confederation gave the affiliated Caribbean countries the opportunity to participate in COPABA organized tournaments and seminars. Yates indeed created the route for the Caribbean to Latin America in Basketball.
Among his other outstanding achievements in the basketball world “Fishy” served as Vice-President of the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) and for a very long time was the only international FIBA referee in the Caribbean.