Men's Basketball

Former UMass Big Man, Rhymer To Represent Virgin Islands At Tournament Of Americas

Rhymer, who stands 6-10, has been playing professionally in China.

Rhymer, who stands 6-10, has been playing professionally in China.

Aug. 22, 2007

ST. CROIX, Virgin Islands - Virgin Islands senior men's national team have been practicing hard over the last two weeks in preparation for the biggest tournament of their lives. The team has even gone out to look for stiff competition in Atlanta, Georgia. Over the past weekend, the team participated in the Southern Roundball Classic in preparation for the 2007 FIBA Americas championship.

The V.I opens the tourney on Thursday when they take on the number one team in the world, United States. The game will be broadcast live at 11:00 p.m. on ESPN Classic.

The Virgin Islands, ranked 38th in the world, must also face Canada (ranked No. 16) on Friday August 24th at 6:00 p.m., followed by Brazil (17) on Saturday August 25th at 6:00 p.m. (NBA TV), and closes out the first round versus Venezuela (21) on Sunday August 26th at 4:00 p.m. (NBA TV). All times are Eastern Standard time.

"Although it doesn't matter what group you are in, we (Virgin Islands) seem to be in a tougher group," said Virgin Islands head men's basketball coach Tevester Anderson. "Most of the teams in our group have current or former NBA players on their roster." Anderson also spoke about Virgin Island involvement in the Championship.

"It's an honor for us to be involved in the FIBA Championships and I am happy for the players and for our country to be taking part in such a prestigious tournament. We have worked very hard to reach this point and must prepare to do our best when we get there."

Pool A has Argentina (2), Puerto Rico (13), Panama (29), Uruguay (30), and Mexico (34).

The top four finishers in each pool advance to the second round of the tournament.

The tournament's gold and silver medalists earn qualifying spots in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Teams that finish third through fifth overall will have a second chance to qualify for Beijing. They'll play in a 12-team qualifying tournament in July of 2008 which will determine the final three teams for the Olympics.

The Team:
A team with a definite New York City look full of tremendous athletes, all of whom have experience in U.S. college, most at the NCAA Division 1 level, the U.S. Virgin Islands qualified for the Tournament of the Americas last summer, clinching a spot after arguably the biggest win in U.S. Virgin Islands history, an 85-84 upset of Puerto Rico, who had NBAer Carlos Arroyo in the lineup. The U.S. Virgin Islands has produced several NBAers, Raja Bell and, of course, Tim Duncan, none of whom will be in their lineup. However, there are several solid players which will make this team very difficult to play against. 6'2" Carl Krauser, who was a three-year starter at Pitt, graduating in 2006, will lead the team from the backcourt. Krauser is one of at least four USVI players who played high school basketball in New York . Krauser played in Germany last season. Other wing players who should see time in the rotation include 6'5" Jason Edwin, who played at Kent State and has spent the past few seasons also playing in Germany, 6'2" Kevin Sheppard, who is also playing in Europe and 6'3" youngster Kaylen Gregory , who is entering his junior year at Marist University. Defensive wiz Stephen Hodge is also on the roster as a guard. Up front, the team will look to 6'9" Frank Elegar, who is entering his senior year at Drexel, where he led the team in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage last season after a stellar high school career at Bronx St. Raymond's. As well, forward Jameel Heywood, a 6 year pro from Oklahoma, averaged 19.1 points per game in the Puerto Rican professional league last season. Another Bronx St. Raymond's product, 6'10" Kitwana Rhymer , is still plying his trade in China. 6'11" post Jaja Richards will give the team another big body along with 6'8" Omari Peterkin . Peterkin recently graduated from Boston University where he was named third team All Conference. On the wing, look for 6'6" Cuthbert Victor and 6'7" Akeem Francis to add depth up front. The US Virgin Islands should be a team that will look to push the tempo, push up on teams defensively and look to run and get to the rim. The group is coming off a stellar effort in qualifying and this is their big summer event so expect them to be solid.

Tevester Anderson is head coach of the Virgin Islands Senior Team. Serving as assistant coaches are former UCLA director, Jim Harrick and Central High coach Donald Bough.




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