TORTOLA – Team Barbados finally registered a victory in the 2014 Caribbean Basketball Confederation Championships when they defeated Guyana 80-69 this evening, to end their participation in the first round of the tournament in Tortola.
The victory followed losses to the United States Virgin Islands on Tuesday and a heartbreaking defeat to the British Virgin Islands last night. Barbados owed their victory to an explosive performance from Keefe Birkett who led all scorers with 28 points. The win, though, left Barbados in third position in the tough Group B of the tourney where the top two teams will advance from each group.
Barbados rapidly imposed their dominance on both sides of the court and on the scoreboard from the outset. The Bajans, coached by Nigel Lloyd, ended the first quarter with a comfortable 26-11 lead and this set the tone for the remainder of the contest. Barbados, controlling both the offensive and defensive boards, had a 25-point advantage at half-time with the score reading 53-28.
Barbados added to their lead and during the first minutes of the third quarter it mushroomed to 30 points. While Barbados might have been guilty of taking their feet off the gas somewhat, Guyana made some adjustments on both ends of the court. The Guyanese started to chip away at Barbados’ lead and at the end of the third quarter had reduced that lead to 68-52.
If the Bajans wanted a wake-up call, a cursory glance at the score provided it. With two minutes and thirty seconds to go in the game, Guyana had managed to reduce Barbados’ lead to a mere eight points at 75-67. However, Guyana seemed to run out of steam from their sterling fightback and coupled with some stifling defence from Barbados were only able to score a further two points up to the final whistle.
But the story of the game was Birkett. He spent just over 30 minutes on the court and made ten of his 15 shots, including six of eight from beyond the arc, for a 67 per cent shooting average. Indeed, it was Barbados’ outside shooting that won them the game as Guyana scored 34 points in the paint compared to Barbados’ 26.
Birkett’s main support came from Akeem Marsh who had 13 points to go with five rebounds. Captain Jeremy Gill, who has struggled somewhat offensively in the tournament, had only eight points but was excellent on the defensive end and also pulled down 13 rebounds to add to six assists. John Jones again struggled in his 16 minutes on the floor, contributing four points and three rebounds.
For the Guyanese, Rawle Marshall had the hot hands with 21 points, five assists and five rebounds. Ryan Stephney added 14 points off the bench while Akeem Kanhai had ten points and a familiar name, Andrew Ifill, contributed 12 points and seven rebounds.
Last night Barbados fought hard against the British Virgin Islands but came up short losing 81-77 in an encounter that could have gone either way in the closing stages.
The hosts took control of the pace of the game from the initial jump and rushed into an early lead. At the end of the first quarter they had a 15-point advantage [25-10] against an initially lacklustre Barbados team.
In the second quarter, the Keith Malone-led team expanded their lead to 20 points and at the end of the first half were up 47-27 thanks to the efforts of Kennedy Bass, Charles Chiverton and Randy George, each with ten points.
On resumption, Barbados employed a full-court press that paid dividends and as the third quarter came to an end had stormed back to reduce their deficit to nine points at 62-53.
Barbados went on a tear at the start of the final quarter and led by the efforts of Akeem Marsh and Birkett on offence, and a complete team effort on defence, were able to take the lead at 63-62. In the next possession, the BVI responded through George and recaptured the lead. The two teams then traded baskets over the next few minutes until the hosts regained the ascendancy that started with a triple from Chiverton.
With 20 seconds to go, the BVI had a lead of five points, 79-74. On the next possession, the play designed by Lloyd did not succeed and the ball went to the hosts. Chiverton then ended the contest from the charity strip as time ran out on Barbados. Marsh had a game-high 21 points, while Birkett contributed 12 and Ramon Simmons, 11. Andre Lockhart contributed 11 assists to go along with five points.
George led the BVI with 19 points while Chiverton and Bass contributed 15 and 14 respectively.