It was basketball at its finest on Saturday last at the Mackenzie Sports Club in Linden, as a capacity crowd witnessed Pacesetters defeating their arch rivals Dynas Ravens 66-62 and Victory Valley Royals upsetting the Amelia’s Ward Jets 68-37 to advance to the final of the 2011 Brusche’s Basketball Classic.
The clash between Ravens and Pacesetters was one of the most anticipated match-ups in local basketball, given the fact that the Dyna’s embroidery sponsored team had been undefeated over the past two years.
Undoubtedly, both sides are laced with most of Guyana’s top players and they treated the crowd in Linden with exactly what they came to see; an intense battle from the beginning to the end.
The support for the two clubs were equally even though Ravens had two players hailing from the Mining Town – Akeem ‘The Dream’ Kanhai and Dwayne ‘Brown Sugar’ Roberts – since Lindeners only cared to enjoy a good game.
Kanhai was playing his first game in Linden since signing with the Ravens and he was the focus of attention. He (Kanhai) entertained the crowd mostly in the first half and brought them to their feet with a breakaway tomahawk dunk.
Most the basketball was played inside in the early stages with Pacesetters team captain Royston Siland and Roberts starting an early duel in the paint but in the end, it was the guards who had the last say.
Travis Burnett, who ended with a game high 27 points, got his way easily in the paint and when he wasn’t laying it up, he was sent to the line with referees Elis Noel and Sherwin Roberts sharp on the whistle.
Ravens held a one point lead at the end of the first quarter (16-15) and outscored Pacesetters 24-18 in the second quarter to lead 40-33 at half time.
The Georgetown Champions Ravens outplayed the victors in the third quarter, with Coach Darcel Harris utilizing his bench well and his troops responded by executing most of their plays.
In the meantime, Naylon Loncke (10), Siland (14) and Burnett kept Pacesetters in the game as they trailed 49-52 heading into the final period.
Pacesetters who scored most of their baskets from the free throw line in fourth quarter, simply stopped the Ravens from driving the ball and made them to shoot, given the fact that Kanhai was way off from beyond the arc and the team missing a true shooter.
Ravens lost the lead for good midway through the fourth and only have some poor shot selection and not to mention Kanhai’s ill-shooting from the charity line to blame.
With time elapsing and the absence of a shot clock, Pacesetters ran the ball out and Ravens on their position ‘bricked’ all of their attempts as they stood and watch Pacesetters celebrate the win as though they have won another Brusche’s Classic Championship.
Ryan Gullen 12, Kanhai 11 and Jermain Slater 10 were the top scorers for the Ravens.
They would however have another chance of winning the title again against the Royals who shocked the Amelia’s Ward Jets.
On paper, the pundits would’ve said its impossible for the Royals to win, but unluckily for the Jets, the game wasn’t played on paper.
Junior National point Guard Marlon Pollydore led his side with another sensational performance and scoring a game high 24 points, Orlan Glasgow 15, Harold Adams 14 and Chris Williams 10 were the primary players for the Royals.
The Jets seemed in the game at first, leading 17-15 at the end of the first quarter but Royals took the game from half time when they led 38-21.
They (Royals) never looked back and completely shut the Jets out from scoring. Jets only added 16 points in the entire second half as compared to the 30 points scored by the eventual winners.
National power forward Shane Webster was the only Jets player in double figure with 15 points while Ruel McKinnon had eight.
The winner of this year’s tournament will not only go home with the beautiful silverware, but also pocket $100,000.
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