Apr 09, 2018 Sports
Story and photos by Calvin Chapman
The Cliff Anderson Sports Hall (CASH) was buzzing with action on Saturday evening last when the first four, group stage, round-robin matches bounced off in the 2018 edition of the prestigious National Club Basketball Championships, dubbed ‘Road to Mecca V’.
Action got underway as early as 16:00hrs with fans being allowed to enter free of cost until the knockout stages of the tournament. Eagles Basketball Club, led by 28-points from Travis Belgrave secured the first win when they defeated Kobras 63-51.
It was a disappointing loss for Kobras which ended third in Road to Mecca IV last December to a team that is returning to the National Championships after a two-year hiatus. The game was close at half time with the score 29-27, a slim two-point lead for Kobras but Eagles soared and capitalised on some loose play by their opponents and chipped away to a ten-point lead during that period of play.
The third quarter was decisive for Eagles’ win and Kobras only managed to put points on the board after more than half of the period had already expired. Mark Wills was always part of the three-point action but his defensive work, mainly on the rebounds was important as Eagles shut Kobras out in the final minutes of the game. In this competition which will see the winner receiving $100,000 for most rebounds, no rebound stats were recorded in this opening game.
In the second match, two-time defending champion Colts were one point short of a century as they completely decimated Linden Amateur Basketball Association’s (LABA) Half Mile Bulls 98-50.
In the 49-point victory, National Center (C) Shane Webster was the main torment of the Bulls with his 24-point game high performance more than enough to tame them, almost equaling half of the losers’ final tally.
Derwain Gladstone (19) and Shelroy Thomas (12) were the other standout performers in the game. Terran Welch (18 points) tried to rescue Bulls but his efforts were not sufficient to prevent such a heavy loss.
LABA Champions and last year’s runners-up, Victory Valley Royals made light work of city club Republic Bank Nets in a 78-61 victory. Juan Johnson scored a game-high 20 points in a losing cause for Nets while Lawrence Da Costa top scored with 17 points for Royals, his teammate Daniel Lee sunk 15 in the win.
In the final game of the evening, Dynas’ Ravens, 4th place finishers in Mecca IV, defeated East Coast based Plaisance Guardians 65-57. Dorian Lewis (19) led Ravens, that had overcame Eagles in the Georgetown Amateur Basketball Association (GABA) Mecca qualifiers, to a comfortable eight-point win over Guardians. Lewis’ skipper, Ryan Stephney, assisted with 14 valuable points.
The competition which continues this Wednesday with three more matches at the same venue will see the champion’s cash in on $600,000, 2nd place $400,000 and 3rd, $300,000. Meanwhile, the MVP will pocket $200,000, player with the Most Points, Rebounds and Most Improved will each receive $100,000 each.
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