By Neto Baptiste

ST. JOHN’S, ANTIGUA – Just one year after it had been increased by over 100 percent to $10,000.00, the cash prize for the winning team in Division One of the Antigua and Barbuda Basketball Association (ABBA) competition has been slashed by half.

This was revealed by President of the Antigua and Barbuda Basketball Association (ABBA), Daryll Matthew, who said the 50 percent reduction from this year’s $10,000.00 prize comes following discussions with teams and sponsors.

The remaining $5, 000.00, he said, will benefit teams in a different way, stating “You would recall that the Yida Group, through Ambassador Johann Hesse, provided a $10,000 first prize for the Division One champions which was an increase from the $4,500.00 the Division One teams usually gets.

“Our fear and concern was the stability of it and so yes, they sponsored last year and maybe they may sponsor this year. But if they don’t sponsor next year, then will there be a reasonable expectation from the teams that the prize monies will always be $10,000.00 and we thought that teams would automatically assume that it is always $10,000.

“So, what we have decided to do this year, and we have discussed this with the teams as well and the sponsors, is that the prize money for the Division One champions will be $5, 000.00.”

The basketball association, in January of this year, announced the increase in prize monies contributed by the Yida Investment Group. The sum, which was won by Hands Up Foundation Baldwin Braves, was the highest payout to a championship team in the sport’s history here.

According to Matthew, however, the executive felt that a $5, 000.00 winning prize would be more manageable in the absence of a sponsor.

“We figure it’s an easier sell to tell the teams that look, funds are tight this year so we can’t pay this money per win, as opposed to telling a team that you use to get $10,000.00 as a first prize but it is now cut to $5,000.00 so I don’t think $5,000.00 is an unreasonable amount to pay a Division One champion, but if we had to cut something at some future date, it would not be the prize money, it would be this per game cost.”

The basketball association had earlier announced a partnership with US-based Central Basketball Association (CBA) that would allow Division One teams to acquire players looking to hone their skills in hopes of turning pro.