GETTING THE NBA'S CALL
When they advanced to New York for an authentic NBA experience in December from the 2016 Digicel Elite Camp held here in October, Mahkayla Pickering and Shauliqua Fahie enjoyed the experience and went back to being themselves.
Last month however, they received correspondence directly from the NBA, inviting them to its third annual Basketball Without Borders (BWB) global camp in New Orleans, Feb 17-19, much to their surprise.
Pickering and Fahie, both 16, are among 67 boys and girls from 32 countries attending the camp at the New Orleans Pelicans' practice facility, as part of the NBA 2017 All Stars activities.
"I didn't expect this," Pickering said, adding that she thinks her talent stood out. "I'm looking forward to being seen so I can get scholarship and also looking forward to seeing the competition out there and what I'm really up against and see how hard others are working even though I'm working hard." "I didn't expect anybody from away selecting me from the Virgin Islands," Fahie said.
The sequence of events leading up to Pickering and Fahie getting the nod almost didn't happen, according to Digicel Marketing Manager Kareem Hull, as they'd considered not holding the BVI leg of the Digicel NBA Jumpstart Program in September.
"When the group offered for us to hold the NBA Elite Camp (in October), we knew it was not acceptable to bring so many persons from different countries here and not give Virgin Islanders a chance to compete on that level," he explained. "Now we truly see the purpose of why Digicel gives back so much to the community, because as we continue to give, our community gets so much more out of it. These young ladies promised from the first time I met them, that they were going to make it to the top two that were going to New York and as they promised, they delivered."
Hull noted that when players from nine Caribbean countries came in, the girls were great ambassadors and hosts.
"We are absolutely proud of these two young ladies and what they have accomplished and we don't see this as anything Digicel takes bragging rights for, because we didn't create and we are not the reason why it's happening," he noted. "We are just the company that's being used at this time to unearth and really go through the Virgin Islands and find all of this talent and that's the true meaning of being extra ordinary."
Digicel General Manager Kevin Gordon said Pickering and Fahie have a unique opportunity that many basketball players crave.
"To have been selected to such a prestigious camp by the NBA shows that they have extraordinary talent," Gordon said. "We are delighted that they have this opportunity which can open even more doors for them. We congratulate Mahkayla Pickering and Shauliqua Fahie and encourage them to embrace the opportunity with the same vigor they brought to the Digicel NBA Jumpstart program and the Elite Camp."