Written by JWolfman
When the University Virgin Islands basketball team touched down at Tampa Bay, Florida, only a few reporters, all local, were waiting for them at the airport. Even among the Caribbean, UVI was a small school, with less than 4,500 students, and well known for their baseball and swimming athletics, not basketball. Although they reached the FCAA Spring Tournament for the first time in the school’s history, they were ranked 16th seed in the Southern Division, said to be the one of the toughest divisions in the brackets.
UVI’s hopes laid squarely on the shoulders of Anika Tonpo, a fossa Swingfur that led the US Virgin Islands to a gold medal at Pan American Games which stunned the international basketball world. Her efficiency at defense and the ability to create shots gave the UVI Buccaneers an edge over many of their Caribbean-based college teams, but the general sports media barely gave them much thought once they face the much bigger, higher-scouted teams of the US mainland. After all, their first opponents were first-seeded Biloxi State, a team many believe would make it all the way to the Final Four.
“FSPN predicted that we were gonna be stomped by Biloxi State. The gamblers put the spread at more than fifteen points,” Coach Hadrian Romana remarked after the game. “I apologize to all those bettors that lost their money,” he said with a laugh.
Anika Tonpo’s 21 points and 4 steals shocked the FCAA world with their victory against the first-seed, one of numerous shockers the first round of the tournament provided. When the buzzer sounded and the score reading 108-105 in their favor, the blue and white-clad Buccaneers crowded together at the center of the basketball court in a pile, all swarming over a joyous Anika as they celebrated their upset victory. The small but fierce blue-flag waving UVI fans stormed the court as well, jumping with joy and hugging each other. This was their moment, their victory, and it was only the first round of the tournament.
Although they remain underdogs against another upsetting school, 15th ranked North Carolina Wolfpack, the University Virgin Islands had stamped their message to the FCAA world. They are the Bucs, and they are here to be noticed.
This is Tashira Rucson, FurSports.com