Barbados rebounded from defeat against St Vincent & The Grenadines in their opening match with a thrilling 77-76 victory over the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean Basketball Confederation (CBC) Men’s Championships last night.
Playing at the Multi Purpose Sports Complex in Road Town, Tortola, Barbados were led to victory by a monster performance from guard Keefe Birkett who notched a game-high 31 points while grabbing six boards and dishing out three assists.
In just under 38 minutes on the floor, Birkett scored ten of his fifteen field-goal attempts on 67 per cent shooting while going six from nine from three-point range. His main support came from captain Jeremy Gill who poured in 16 points and also contributed four rebounds and six assists. Akeem Marsh was busy on both sides of the floor, scoring 13 points while pulling down nine rebounds, six of which were on the defensive end.
John Jones also made his presence felt on both the offensive and defensive end. He was more of a factor on the boards than he had been in the first game, grabbing eight rebounds to go with eight vital points.
Barbados started the game with Gill, Birkett, Jones, Marsh and Mark Bridgeman, and used their bench sparingly. The five-man support cast, collectively, averaged just over seven minutes on the floor with Charles Vanderpool alone seeing 18 minutes.
This seeming lack of confidence for his support cast by coach Nigel Lloyd was reflected in a mere six points coming from the bench; a three-pointer from guard Rahiim Gibbons who was substituted almost immediately after making the basket, and three free-throws from Vanderpool. In comparison, the deep BVI bench contributed a handy 35 points.
The two teams traded baskets for periods of the game with the BVI up 14-9 at the end of the first quarter; behind 45-32 at the half; and down by 15 at the beginning of the fourth quarter as Barbados threatened a blowout.
But then the hosts got some inspiration from point guard Bjorn Caleb, who struck back-to-back twos off the bench to shift the momentum of the game. Guard Franklyn Penn then brought the crowd to their feet with a two and a three-pointer to make it a ten-point game.
Captain and shooting-guard Kennedy Bass also went in from long range to bring the scores even closer and the BVI went ahead, 73-71, on another three from starting guard Killven Samuel with 1:50 left on the clock.
But then Barbados went back into the lead on a series of free throws and a three from the admirable Birkett to make the score 77-76 with less than a minute to play
The BVI then missed a series of opportunities to retake the lead, with three attempts to score all missing before the final buzzer.
Power forward Randy George finished with 17 points and ten rebounds for the BVI, Penn had 15 points, five rebounds and three blocks off the bench, Samuel had 12 points to go along with seven rebounds and small forward Steve Parillon contributed 11 points off the bench in just under 15 minutes on the floor.
The two teams basically cancelled each other out on the boards with the BVI grabbing 44 boards to Barbados’ 43. However, for their second successive game Barbados were less than efficient in protecting ball possession, giving up 25 turnovers to the BVI’s 17. Barbados scored ten second opportunity points to the BVI’s nine but the hosts dominated Barbados in the paint, scoring 30 points to Barbados’ 16.
In the earlier game Bermuda, after briefly giving up the lead in the second half, upped their preliminary round record to 1-1 with a 74-65 victory over Guyana.
Bermuda led 15-9 after the first quarter and, after a Keron McKenzie three-pointer tied it for Guyana at the 4:08 mark of the second, closed out the half on a 9-2 run to lead 32-23 at halftime.
Gordon James then gave Guyana their first lead since midway through the first quarter with a three-point play to make it 38-36 with 5:06 left in the third.
But Bermuda went on a 5-0 run of their own to retake the lead. A three-pointer by Jason Simons, with 40 seconds left in the third, stretched the lead to seven before the quarter ended with Bermuda up 50-45.
James got his team to within two with another three-point play at the 7:01 mark of the fourth, making the score 52-50, and then to within four at 61-57 with 4:19 to play, but Guyana would get no closer, scoring just two points over the next 2:19 minutes.
Sullivan Philips led Bermuda with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Christopher Crumpler scored 16, and Yusef Riley added 11. James led Guyana with 22 points. Akeem Kanhai pulled down 12 rebounds.