Wednesday, November 30, 2016
With 2016 drawing to a close, we sat down with Fernando Rojas, the owner and Head Coach of the Tampa Bay Rebels, to discuss the events of the past year and the outlook heading into 2017.
What was the high point of 2016?
Our developmental program produced its first export player, and, as a team, we played more games than the year before. This level of activity made the developmental program better and stronger. Another important aspect in 2016 was the fact that we found a training facility that we can call home. The Clinic in Tampa fits our needs perfectly.
Your summer program will be in its third year of operation. What is next?
Our spring and summer program is growing and moving in the right direction. During our second season, we saw better talent joining the Blue Sharks. Still, for some players, weekly practices and basic organization was difficult to manage. We have a good roster for next year, and we are planning on adding new talent.
Are the Tampa Bay Rebels closer to joining a professional league?
The decision to join a league in the summer will be carefully considered. We want to be part of an organization that is based on professionalism and intelligent leadership. There are some options that we are currently looking into.
What about the low points this year?
Lack of commitment seems to be the biggest obstacle. Many good players miss out on the opportunity because they do not want to practice; they just want to play on the weekends. We are not a recreational basketball organization, and commitment is key.
What are your plans for 2017?
We want to increase the number of games we play in the city as well as against out of state competition. We will be looking for the next player that we can send overseas.
To learn more about the Tampa Bay Rebels organization, please visit us online at www.tampabayrebels.com.
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Mexico’s LNBP, the top professional basketball league south of the border, just kicked off the 2016-17 season in early October. Coach Rojas was invited to attend the series between Correcaminos and Abejas. “Coach Garcia from Correcaminos invited me to spend some time with his club; it was a great opportunity to see the inner workings of his team. I also spent quality time with Rodrigo, Director of Basketball Operations of the Abejas de Leon club, and even had the opportunity to chat with former NBA player Horacio Llamas. The league has fewer teams this year, but the level of play is considerably higher than years past. Only the best talent will make it in this league. They know some of our former players did a good job for their clubs, and they told me that they would like to see more players from Tampa heading their way.”
For those who are interested in pursuing a career in professional basketball or building upon previous professional experience, the Tampa Bay Rebels developmental team, the Blue Sharks, will be holding a tryout from 11am-2pm on Saturday, December 3rd at The Clinic which is located at 9511 N Trask Street Unit B in Tampa. The tryout fee for each player is $200.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Blue Sharks MVP and member of the Tampa Bay Rebels Tyshawn Edwards has been signed by Correcaminos Victoria of the LNBP, the top professional league in Mexico. Edwards, a high-energy 6’4” athletic guard that has the ability to play the 2 and 3 positions at the FIBA level, scored 36 points against the SC Redhawks in his last game as a Rebel.
Edwards played for the Rebels’ developmental team, the Blue Sharks, for a period of nine months during in which the team competed in local tournaments and leagues. The Blue Sharks program is designed for players interested in developing their game within an organized environment. Tyshawn saw the program as an opportunity to bring discipline to his personal life and develop his game. Edwards said, “I love the game of basketball, but I did not want to spend my best years playing weekend tournaments with my friends. On December 19th 2015, I attended Coach Rojas tryout, and I will never forget that day. He gave me confidence and treated me in a very professional way. I made the team and decided to stick with the program. Six months later, he told me that if I kept practicing, he would contact foreign teams on my behalf. I received my first international contract shortly after. Coach has personal relationships with overseas teams, and spends time training players like me.”
In the last nine months Edwards’ game has become stronger on both ends of the floor. Coach Rojas commented, “Ty is a success story in more ways than one. First off, he made a very personal decision to improve himself. He joined our developmental team, and, for nine consecutive months, he showed his dedication to getting better, and he did. I enjoyed coaching a player that respects the game and the people who supported him. We have already scheduled another tryout in December to keep searching for more talent. The system works for the player with the right skillset and attitude.”
To learn more about the Tampa Bay Rebels and the upcoming tryouts on December 3rd, please visit us online at www.tampabayrebels.com.
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Former Tampa Bay Rebel Joe Katuka recently visited Africa while supporting the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program. Katuka was a member of the 2014 Tampa Bay Rebels roster that reached the FBA championship game. “I met Joe thanks to Greg Kite, a former NBA Champion. Joe did a great job for us in the 2014 season. His inside game and ability to finish with both hands was a fundamental factor in our team reaching the championship game. He had a great high school and college career, and will be able to share with the African youth everything that he has learned. I cannot think of a better fit for the Basketball Without Borders program than Joe. We are glad to see him succeed,” Coach Rojas commented.
Thursday, September 1, 2016
The Blue Sharks have finished their 2016 activities with an overall record of 15 – 10. Early in the year, the Blue Sharks reached the championship game in the MLK tournament. The team later finished as the runner up in the Tampa Bay Sports Club league, and will look to carry some of that momentum into the 2017 calendar year.
Each year, the Blue Sharks name an MVP which has been chosen by the players. This year, the players selected 6’4” guard Tyshawn Edwards as the 2016 Blue Sharks MVP. Edwards attended the first Blue Sharks tryout in December 2015 and made the team. Since then, he has participated in every single practice and game for nine consecutive months. Coach Rojas commented on Ty’s MVP year, “We know that most players focus their efforts on playing. Ty was committed to practice and learning more about the game, and enjoyed being part of a serious organization. After nine months of hard work, he transformed himself from a weekend player into a professional athlete capable of playing at FIBA level. His hard work set a high standard for future players interested in joining the team. His skill set is very evident to the naked eye, but, in my opinion, his best asset is his work ethic. He represents the core purpose of the Blue Sharks.”
Thursday, July 7, 2016
The focus of the Tampa Bay Rebels organization is to mold and develop players for the international market where they can help foreign clubs as “export” players. While the number of openings for export players varies across countries and leagues, the expectation placed upon these players to perform in a professional manner both on and off the court remains high across the board. This summer, we have several players with the skill to play abroad. They have invested months into our program, improving their game and getting advice on what to expect when playing overseas.
Over the past ten years, the list of players that have received their first international contract right after playing or touring with the Rebels has continually grown to include the following players: Brandon Davis (Lamar University), Marlyn Bryant (USF), Dajan Smith (Lynn University), Mark Borders (University of Tampa), Terrence Gamble (Tarleton State), Fred Woods (University of Tampa), Jarvis Gunter (NBA D-League), Spenser Mitchell (St. Leo), Marcus Morrison (Middle Tennessee State), Rick Catala (Miami), Tyrone Hayes (University of Idaho), Jarrell Kelley (Fort Myers), Joshua Perry (Jacksonville State), and LaTraven Henry (Orlando).
This talented group of former Tampa Bay Rebels started their international career in countries such as Mexico, Portugal, China, Dominican Republic and Ireland. Most of these athletes went on to play in Brazil, Uruguay, Mongolia, and Spain. Coach Rojas commented “A high percentage of these guys were hired by other clubs after their rookie season, and that speaks highly of our organization. Many players can be hired once but only the most capable will be able to build a long term career.”
You can learn more about the Tampa Bay Rebels by visiting www.tampabayrebels.com.
Monday, May 16, 2016
The Blue Sharks developmental program continues to grow as new players are joining the team’s practices and games. Recently, the team contracted with a centrally located practice facility in Tampa allowing players the opportunity to join the team without traveling larger distances. The team is holding practices every Monday and Wednesday night at 8 pm.
Tampa Bay Rebels GM Fernando Rojas commented, “Having a practice facility that fits our needs will help the program significantly. We are building something positive for basketball athletes, but also adding something beneficial for the community. We extend an open invitation to all payers 18 years of age and older to join the Blue Sharks.”
You can learn more about the Tampa Bay Rebels and the Blue Sharks at www.tampabayrebels.com.
Thursday, March 17, 2016
This year, the Tampa Bay Rebels celebrate our 10th anniversary as a basketball organization, and we couldn’t plan a better celebration than having two of our best former players reach the top of their profession. Brandon Davis finished the LNBP regular season as the league’s leading scorer with an average of 25.7 points per game in forty games. He also took his team, Correcaminos (Roadrunners), to the playoffs for the first time in three years. Veteran point guard Mark Borders finished the season as the LNBP’s assists leader with 7.9 assists per game. Borders also led the LNBP in assists during his rookie season in 2007.
“I remember when I recruited Mark after his college career at the University of Tampa. At the time, we were the Tampa Bay Sharks. We traveled abroad, and, after playing two games, he was signed by Santos de San Luis. Later on, he went to Brazil for four years and then came back to Mexico to become the assist leader this year,” Coach Rojas commented. He added “Two years ago, I went to Jacksonville to watch a minor league basketball game. I saw Brandon’s shooting capability and two things were clear: his NBA range and ease of release. He is a natural shooter with the size and defensive skills to successfully play international basketball. At the time, I do not think he was fully aware of his potential. He played for the Rebels in 2014 and set a single game scoring record in the FBA of 42 points including 12 three point shots. He was the Rebels MVP that year, and shortly after, for the first time, he signed his first international contract.”
Coach Rojas continued, “We are elated to celebrate ten years of promoting basketball in Tampa and, at the same time, recognizing the success of two smart players. Mark Borders and Brandon Davis are two outstanding athletes who appreciate the opportunities given to them. I have no doubt that they will continue climbing the ladder of success in their personal lives and basketball careers.”
Thursday, February 25, 2016
Former Tampa Bay Rebel's forward Spenser Mitchell was recently signed by Club Deportivo Estela Santander of Spain’s EBA. Mitchell is averaging 9.6 points and 8.0 rebounds during his time with Estela and has helped the team reach a record of 12-3. This is Mitchell’s second tour of duty in Europe as he previously played for Travelodge Swords Thunder in Ireland during the 2014-2015 season. Mitchell now joins a select group of former Tampa Bay Rebels who started their professional career in Tampa and continue to play internationally. Rebels Coach Fernando Rojas commented, “Spenser is a hard working player that will make the Estela front court better. His work ethic and team-oriented attitude is second to none, and we are glad to see him succeed at the next level.”
Monday, February 22, 2016
This year, the Tampa Bay Rebels will reach a milestone in minor league basketball. In the summer of 2006, under the name Tampa Bay Sharks, the club started operations by winning the championship in the Bay Pro-Am tournament. That year, the team traveled to Argentina and Mexico where, for the first time, some of our best players were signed by international clubs. In 2011, we changed the name to Tampa Bay Rebels and co-founded the Florida Basketball Association. The newly formed Tampa Bay Rebels won the 2012 FBA Championship and reached the finals for three consecutive years. We continued our international travel in 2011 by accepting an invitation to play in Cancun and also returned to Mexico for a three games series against professional teams in October of 2015.
Many great players have worn the Rebels jersey. The list of athletes includes NBA veterans, D-League players, NCAA National Champions, Sunshine State Conference player of the year, and ABA champions. Throughout the years, the coaching staff has also been a place of professional development for young coaches and sport managers.
We sincerely thank all the players who have, in the last ten years, worn the Sharks and Rebels jersey for their hard work, time, and dedication. Our wining culture and respect for the game is the result of their positive attitude and professionalism. We thank all past and present members of the coaching staff for their valuable insight and attention to detail. In particular, we would like to say “thank you" to a talented group of volunteers and supporters for sharing the dream and helping the Tampa Bay Rebels to become a one of a kind basketball organization.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
The Blue Sharks kicked off the year by participating in the first edition of the MLK Classic weekend tournament in Tampa. A new group of players, along with some returning faces such as Kevin Foster and Don Thomas, played exceptionally well and compiled a 5-2 record during the weekend. In one of the Sunday games, Blue Sharks 2015 MVP Don Thomas scored from half court sending the game to overtime and leading to a win in the semifinal contest. In the championship game, however, the Blue Sharks fell to the Bay Area Squad 65-70.
Coach Rojas commented, “Coach Brown did a great job getting the most out of a group that played together for the first time. We are in the process of building a new, competitive team that can gather interest from foreign clubs. We still have some open spots, and we will continue looking for more players to complete the roster that will be traveling in the spring and summer.”
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
As 2015 draws to a close, we wanted to take a few minutes to talk with Tampa Bay Rebels owner and head coach, Fernando Rojas, and discuss all that has happened over the past 12 months. Here is a recap of our recent Q & A session with Coach Rojas:
What would you consider the high point of 2015?
For the second year in a row we were able to help one of our own players getting a full time job. Jonathan Brown is now working as a full time employee for a marketing survey company in Oldsmar. He is also the Head Coach of the Blue Sharks. Our main business is basketball but we will always support athletes willing to improve their own lives. The other success story is about Don Thomas who joined the Blue Sharks in July. He made the Rebels team that toured Mexico in October, and, after playing well against professional teams, he was invited to stay and practice with the local team.
This year you started the Blue Sharks, why?
The purpose of the Blue Sharks is to give more players the opportunity to display their basketball skills. Many local athletes want more than just playing with their friends on weekends. We open the door for quality players willing to invest the time to further their basketball careers. The system works for the right player, we look forward to keep launching new careers.
You have been doing this for a while, what are the pros and cons of minor league basketball?
The game of basketball is a great sport when the spirit of the game is understood. The game itself can provide opportunities and experiences that otherwise would not be available for most young people. Minor league sports provide a particularly important service to the community, affordable ticket pricing is one of them, but also real interaction between fans and players is something you do not see in mainstream sports. The downside is that too many times we see the game tainted by narrow minded concepts of respect and manhood. Some players forget that a real man pays his bills on time and spends time with his children. Dunking only means you can dunk.
Are you going to join any of the Florida leagues in 2016?
We are very interested in having the Rebels or Blue Sharks join one of the summer leagues in the State. There are several options out there we just need to figure out which one fits our budget and basketball goals.
You mentioned the high points of the year, what about the low points?
It is always disheartening to see young men wasting opportunities giving to them. Being part of an organized team is a great experience. However, instant gratification seems to be the biggest obstacle for young athletes.
What are your plans for 2016?
We have games outside Florida, tournaments in Tampa throughout the year, and exhibition games in Central and South Florida. The main plan is always the same: find and develop new talent.
If you would like to learn more about the Tampa Bay Rebels, please visit us online at www.tampabayrebels.com.
Sunday, November 29, 2015
The Tampa Bay Rebels and their developmental team, the Blue Sharks, are excited to announce an affiliation with a Division 2 professional league in Mexico. The relationship with the Mexican league will allow for increased opportunities for players to earn jobs at the international level.
“We have had a great deal of success in helping players get their start in international basketball over the last 9 years, most recently with Blue Sharks MVP Don Thomas during the Rebels recent international tour,” stated Andrew Phillips, the Director of Scouting for the Rebels. “This new agreement, which is only possible because of the personal relationships that Coach Rojas has built over the years, will allow us an opportunity to provide a platform for even more players to start their careers. The second division is an ideal spot for talented players who have limited professional basketball resumes to this point in their careers, which are the same type of players who find success with the Blue Sharks.”
Interested players should attend the Blue Sharks tryout on December 19th. The tryout will be held from 11am – 2pm at the Police Athletic League (PAL) gymnasium located at 1924 W. Diana Street in Tampa, Florida. The cost for the tryout is $200 and must be paid in cash at the door.
To learn more about the Tampa Bay Rebels and the Blue Sharks, please visit www.tampabayrebels.com.
Monday, November 16, 2015
This year, the LNBP, the top league in Mexico, is featuring two players with ties to Florida that share the same beginning in professional basketball. Point guard Mark Borders and small forward Brandon Davis played for Coach Rojas in 2007 and 2014, respectively. “We have launched the career of many good players throughout the years. Mark and Brandon are the two best examples of what we do. After starting his career in Mexico, then having four successful seasons in Brazil, Mark is now a savvy veteran point guard. Brandon is starting his second year in the LNBP and continues to develop into a true professional. Brandon’s future is very bright. We are proud of their accomplishments and thankful for the opportunity to coach two outstanding athletes and good young men,” Rebels Coach Fernando Rojas commented.
Sunday, November 1, 2015
Following a successful season with the Blue Sharks, 6’2” point guard Don Thomas was selected to travel with the Tampa Bay Rebels to Mexico for a three game exhibition tour against professional teams from the top Mexican league. After averaging 13.3 points, 2 steals, and 6 assists, the local club Panteras de Aguascalientes invited Thomas to stay and practice with the team during the preseason. “We do not know if the invitation will turn into a contract this year, however, he played well enough on both ends of the court to get the attention of the local coaching staff,” Coach Rojas commented. He added, “Don is a success story. He is the first player coming out of our developmental system that gets one step closer to playing international basketball.”
Friday, October 23, 2015
The Tampa Bay Rebels recently returned from their 2015 International Tour where they competed against teams from the LNBP, the top league in Mexico. This was the fourth time that the Rebels have traveled abroad to compete against professional teams outside of the United States. The team played a total of 3 games during their week-long tour. All three games were played at an elevation higher than 6,000 feet.
“We would first like to thank all of the clubs in Mexico for their hospitality during our tour,” Rebels Director of Scouting Andrew Phillips stated. “We were fortunate to be able to play against such quality organizations while we were abroad. We were also able to meet with team owners to discuss the possibility of making the Tampa Bay Rebels the feeder organization for their team next season. They know many of the great players from Tampa and Central Florida that we have sent to the LNBP in past seasons. Coach Rojas will also be meeting with several teams next month as well.”
To keep up to date with the latest Tampa Bay Rebels news, please visit www.tampabayrebels.com.
Thursday, October 8, 2015
This is the team’s fourth international tour. The Rebels will travel to Mexico in October to compete against clubs from the country’s top professional league. To find out the latest news about the Tampa Bay Rebels, please visit www.tampabayrebels.com.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
The Tampa Bay Rebels have completed their roster search for the upcoming tour to Mexico. This year, the team features players with previous professional basketball experience in countries such as Australia, Uruguay, and Canada as well as a former NBA center. Talent from the Rebels developmental team is also joining the roster.
The Rebels are scheduled to play four games in three cities against top teams from the LNBP, Mexico’s best professional league, during the one week trip abroad. The team will continue their preparations by holding morning practices at the YMCA and evening sessions at the Police Athletic League facility. This trip marks the fourth time the Rebels have traveled abroad to play against international competition.