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Swiss army knife Kennedy, the sharp point of Beira offence

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Beira learnt lessons from loss to Tigers Basketball runs deep in Jermel Kennedy’s family. The influence of his kin is one of  the main reasons he plays the game. Community also played its part in providing the fertile ground for the Canada-born player to grow, spread his wings and further his ambition in the sport. […].

Beira learnt lessons from loss to Tigers

Basketball runs deep in Jermel Kennedy’s family. The influence of his kin is one of  the main reasons he plays the game.

Community also played its part in providing the fertile ground for the Canada-born player to grow, spread his wings and further his ambition in the sport.

“Growing up, where I am from, basketball is popular. It’s something I enjoy doing. The city of Malton has a huge basketball culture. In a way it propelled me to achieve my dreams,” said Kennedy. “Also, basketball runs in the family. My mom played in high school and my older sister played as well. In fact, my older sister’s influence was what encouraged me to take on the sport. I used to watch her high school games. She was pretty good.”

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Jermel Kennedy believes lessons have been learnt from the loss against Tigers Pictures: The Big Tip Off

The 32-year-old forward would go on to chart his own path as he learnt the ropes at Lincoln Alexander Secondary School and refined his game in the American college system. With  a clear foundation laid and a physical growth spurt, the signs were there that he had the potential to be a good player.

“In my second year of high school, I grew taller and realised there was an opportunity there. I was probably one of  the tallest players in my area or team and decently athletic. I was slowly developing, and people recognised that I had certain attributes that translated well,” said Kennedy, who had spells with two junior colleges in the United States before joining Division II college team, Lander Bearcats.

Kennedy says while he enjoyed his time at the South Carolina school, where he also graduated, he was far from the polished player that he is now.

“I liked what Lander offered me. It was perfect for me, a good fit. It was different. Although, in the beginning, I was more like a four or five and did not shoot very well. I was more like a get-out, run and dunk the ball kind of player, but I still had most of the tools I use now although I was more of an inside than outside player,” said Kennedy.

The road to the pro-ranks saw Kennedy return home to the Canadian National Basketball League (NBL). Although he was a high draft pick for the NBL, he did not see himself playing on home turf, as the league was relatively new and painted in a negative light by players who had participated in it.

“I took a year off and played in tournaments or basketball leagues. Anything basketball-related, I immersed myself into. I also wanted to be a part of the NBL draft (in 2013). So, to get there, I went to the combine,” said Kennedy, who landed at the Moncton Miracles. “I ended up getting drafted sixth, but I had no intention of playing in the NBL. Some friends and players did not have good experiences playing in it. The league was new at the time, so how they handled players was not professional. I used my high draft value as a way of marketing myself and leveraging a move overseas.”

In addition to realising his dream of playing abroad, Kennedy has also been a bit of a journeyman. Spain (CB Clavijo Logrono), Britain (Worcester Wolves), Portugal (ADO Basquetbol SAD Overanse), Canada (Guelph Nighthawks and Hamilton Honeybadgers), Argentina (Ferrocarril Oeste) and France (AS Kaysersberg, Besancon BCD and Toulouse Basket Club) have all been home to the Canadian player.

 

 

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Mozambican club Ferroviario Da Beira, is where he now earns his keep. The Beira-based club is on a mission to qualify for the Basketball Africa League (BAL) and was in South Africa three weeks ago, where they successfully progressed to the Elite 16.

Beira won their first two games against Matero Magic of Zambia (81-51) and Roche-Bois Warriors of Mauritius (132-36) and crumbled in the final minutes against hosts, Cape Town Tigers (86-85) in a game the Mozambican’s dominated.

Reflecting on the qualifiers, especially in the final game, Kennedy says it was a good thing that they lost the game against the Tigers. In his opinion, it provided Beira with some teachable moments that will come in handy at the Elite 16 in December.

“I would say our biggest plus in that tournament was losing that game. It made us aware of certain things we had not noticed. We are not going to waltz into games and expect to win,” said Kennedy. “We were leading that game, and we were dominating. There were little things that we slept on. Little things like turnovers, not finishing easy plays, getting back on defence and rebounding. There are so many takeaways. It sucks when you have to understand that lesson through a loss. So, the loss provided those lessons.”

Despite the loss, Kennedy’s scoring feats for Beira was the highlight on the court during the regional qualifiers held at the University of Johannesburg Soweto Campus. In the opener against Matero, he dropped 16 points and in the second game against Warriors he again scored 16 points. In the loss to the Tigers, Kennedy did not disappoint as he notched double figures scoring 22 points. The Canadian has so far shown that he has a high basketball IQ in terms of scoring. His stats in the game against Tigers speak to this fact. He was 9/12 in field goals and was 4/5 from behind the arc.

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Jermel Kennedy used his high NBL draft to leverage a move overseas.

While Kennedy has shown that he is a proven scorer for Beira, he also sees himself as an all-around player that does what the team requires of him.

I am like a Swiss army knife. There are a lot of things I do on the court. I don’t do everything super amazing, but I do everything good. I am like the glue guy, but my role in this team is different. The coach expects me to be more aggressive, rebound, drive in, kick out and create for the team. I try to do that at a high level as much as possible,” concluded Kennedy.

On his experience with his new teammates, Kennedy says the process has been seamless as he has joined a good team with quality players that understand basketball. He feels this group of players will turn it up a level for the club when the Elite 16 tournament begins.

“It’s way easier than people make it out to be. These guys are smart players and easy to play with. Our system is not that difficult, it’s actually quite easy.” said the new Beira recruit. “We are definitely going to turn the intensity up this month as the Elite 16 approaches. Hopefully we are able to resolve the issues we have identified.” 

The Elite 16 will require a different attitude from Beira and Kennedy. There has been introspection, and moving forward, the Mozambican team will have to dot their i’s and cross their t’s as the road to the BAL tournament will not get any easier. Beira will need Kennedy and his teammates to step up and play consistently at an elite level.

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