By Edison Jefford
The two unlikely candidates currently embroiled in the gruelling battle to secure the Georgetown Amateur
Basketball Association (GABA) Division I League title have provided nothing short of awesome basketball over the last weekend at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall.
The underdog in the contest is definitely Plaisance Guardians, having not won a major Division I title since their elevation to that category. Colts have won a few including the nation-wide Forbes Burnham Memorial Championships in Linden last August.
However, Guardians announced their presence in the GABA best-of-three final last Friday when they edged Colts 77-76 in game one, albeit via Kurt English choking at the free-throw line. Point guard, Nikkoloi Smith, who was called to the senior national team late last year, caught fire with a minute left in the game and almost won it for Guardians with sensational shooting from downtown.
This is a battle that is minus the familiar foes, Pacesetters and Ravens, which is refreshing for the sport in Georgetown. The fact that other teams are getting to the level of knocking off the fancied contenders speaks directly to the growth of competition.
Colts returned Sunday night to level the series 1-1 with a 77-74 victory that only came as a result of a missed three-point attempt from Smith ricocheting off the back rim. The closeness of games sets up Saturday’s final as a must-see for basketball enthusiasts. The game begins at 8pm and the prediction could very well be an overtime thriller.
Smith will be at his usual best and there is no doubt that he will be difficult to stop. The athletic guard is pure
energy. Perhaps only Travis Burnett comes close to his pace and up-tempo brand of basketball. Smith has been the difference-maker for Guardians.
And why not; the former Colt might have a point to prove – that his decision to return to his first club was worthwhile. Smith, who once played for the Colts, went back to Plaisance and since the move, Guardians have been a much-improved team.
Maybe there is a lesson in that story for other players, who believe that they have to be traded to the more prominent clubs to be recognised. Smith is proving that the best of players help develop poor clubs. Other players ought to take note of this effect.
Smith will have to contend with guards, Shelroy Thomas and Dave Causway on Saturday, but he will certainly have another MVP performance. Whether Colts can stop him is to be seen, but it is no secret that the third will be the best of the three finals.
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