Someone had to lose.
And in the end it was Orange3 Pinelands going down to Lakers Sports Club 76-71 at the Wildey Gymnasium last night.
But fans were thrilled by an even contest that was arguably the game of the Co-operators General Insurance-sponsored BABA Premier League season so far.
It was virtually a shoot-out between Lakers’ Keefe Birkett and Pinelands’ Ramon Simmons who traded baskets for long stretches of the match-up.
So close was the encounter that it was locked at 31 at half-time and for virtually the entire game the points differentiation was in single digits. There was a feeling among many fans that the game would be decided by the help coming the way of Birkett and Simmons. And for Lakers Sydney “Bouncer” Rowe was inspirational.
The big six-footer is no spring chicken but the pride of Kensington New Road turned back the clock with a stirring performance that saw him contribute an important 15 points but more crucially, proving a terror on the boards, both defensively and offensively. He finished with 18 rebounds and was palpably the difference between the two teams.
With mere seconds to go in regulation time, Pinelands forward Hally Franklyn beat his opponents’ defence with a desperation lay-up to lock the scoreline at 59-59, much to the dismay of Lakers’ supporters.
The overtime period was marked by some timely points from Junior Moore for Pinelands who notched up 14, while teammate Anthony Barrow chipped in with 10. Pinelands had some offensive spurts in overtime but had no real answer for Rowe in the paint. He might be slow but size matters near the basket and a few offensive put-backs by the burly center kept the contest close.
However with time ticking away on the clock Lakers found themselves down 66-64 but once more Birkett’s never-say-die attitude saved the day. A running jumper by the shooting guard that found nothing but the bottom of the net, almost on the buzzer, tied the scores and sent the game into double overtime.
It was in this final stanza that the script went decisively in the direction of the Lakers with a combination of stifling defence and denying Pinelands easy baskets, that saw a bit of daylight between the two teams. Birkett finished with 24 points and Derek Browne added 11 important baskets for the winners. Simmons had a game-high 25 points for Pinelands.
In the first game of the night Hilton Barbados Resorts Warriors beat Cougars 75-60. Warriors led 35-22 at the half-time break.
For Warriors Ricardo Toussaint top scored with 23 points and added 11 rebounds, Nicholas King scored 13 points and Daniel Durant contributed 12. For Cougars Ricardo Jemmott had 23 points and 11 rebounds while Lawrence Small added 15 points.