Jamaica Basketball Association (JaBA) was established in the 1970’s following the restarting of school basketball leagues in 1971.
The JaBA players are selected from the most talented school basketball players in the Open League of that year. Most players are Blacks while only some of the Chinese were involved. The first few sponsors were Berger Paints, National Continental Foods, Red Stripe Beer, Jamaica Telephone Company, and Modern Furnishing.
In the mid-seventies, local leagues game started. During this time, foreign teams went to Jamaica to compete with the National team. Among the foreign teams were Delaware University, Cuban National teams, and Lakeland College.
The National team, being a neophyte, was nothing compared to the foreign teams.
Noted improvement in Jamaica’s basketball occurred in the 1980’s when the teams competing for the leagues increased. Jamaica also gained their first win in an international competition when they defeated Belize national team having 3-0 wins in a 3 game series.
They also won the CARICOM tournament against Trinidad and Tobago Championship in Guyana. The country’s success is attributed to overseas scholar players such as Wayne Sappleton, Andrew Kennedy, and Jamaica’s representative to Canada in the Olympics-Anthony Simms.
The first two players were soon drafted by NBA’s Golden Gate Warriors and Philadelphia 76’ers respectively.The success of JaBA blossomed in the late 90’s when the male senior basketball team won the 1996 Carribean Championship title and the Under 18 team won the Junior Championship for two years (1997 and 1999) and third place in 2001 tournament.
The National Basketball League (or NBL, formerly known as Berger Paints Division) is the primary league in JaBA. Most players in this league are chosen as players of the National team.
The league is now composed of 12 teams: Blazing Panthers, Tivoli All Stars, Denham Town Wizards, Buckfield United, Slayers, Linkup All Stars, West Cumberland Flame, Urban Knights, Rae Town Raptors, Braves Chiefs, Rebels, and Harbour View Lakers. Recently, Urban Knights defeated the Tivoli All Stars-the 4 times champion in a row.
The Jamaican Basketball Association currently presided by Mr. Ajani Williams organizes programs to promote basketball to the people and enhance the skills of those with potentials. They have senior male and female squad.
The female squad is doing well in competitions. Some female players get scholarship grants from different tertiary institutions and others also play in international competitions. Simone Edwards is considered the most successful JaBA female squad player since she played in Europe and drafted by WNBA Seattle Storms. Otherprograms include Mini Basketball Program, Star Search Basketball and Life Skills Development Camp and High School Program.
Mini Basketball Program
Basketball in Jamaica started to be popularized in High School. Due to the need of the JaBA to improve the skills of those with potentials as earlier as possible, they adopted the program Mini Basketball Program.
This program stands by the motto: “Practice makes perfect” and aims to encourage kids to play basketball at any age and train them to be the best of what they are. Through this program, it is projected that once these kids grew older, they are skilled and have greater possibility to win competitions.
Star Search Basketball and Life Skills Development Camp
This joint project by JaBA and Jamaica Basketball Development Inc. (JBD Inc) was implemented in 2001. This aims to search for the best young basketball players and develop their skills further through intensive training.
Through joining this camp, the young players are open to the opportunity of having overseas scholarship. Furthermore, they are able to explore basketball as a sport at the same time having a one week full of fun with their co- youngsters.