Burger King Clapham Bulls had themselves to blame, turning up for a top-flight basketball game with only five men. In the end five almost proved enough. Almost!
Point guard and captain Rahim Gibbons top scored with 22 points in a sterling display but could not prevent his under-manned Bulls from going under 59-52 to Station Hill Cavaliers last night in round two of the Co-operators General Insurance-sponsored Barbados Amateur Basketball Association Premier League at the Wildey Gymnasium.
Despite the loss it was a commendable effort from Bulls who had no choice but to run five players for the entire game. It was a testimony to their fitness with many expecting the Cavaliers with a full team to dominate and run them into the ground. But in the end the Adrian Craigwell-coached Cavs had to fight earnestly for close their victory. The scores after the first three periods were 21-9, 28-29 and 45-39.
Joel Hunte scored 14 points, Corey Howard and Jason Smith had ten apiece, Darren Hunte chipped in with eight and Jamai Puckerin had six.
Gibbons managed to net four of five three-point shots while also pulling down ten rebounds in the game. His teammate Kodia Leacock was the only other player to reach double figures with 15 points. Former national player Ryan Leacock who now competes in division one, played last night in an effort to help the Bulls upset Cavaliers but they still came up short.
The score was 37-34 to the Barry Rock-coached Clapham team in the third quarter but they maintained that lead only briefly before Puckerin netted back to back shots and Cavaliers captain Smith with a three-pointer took them on to 41 points. It was from there that the momentum really shifted in favour of the Station Hill men who have so far secured their place in the playoffs with Orange Three Pinelands, Urban Vybz St John Sonics and Hilton Resort Barbados Warriors.
The deficit was very manageable and Bulls by their energy seemed confident they could get back in the game. They also got a few favourable calls from officials Jennifer Hackett and Andrew Mayers that helped their cause. Added to their optimism was the fact that high-flyer Darren Hunte, usually a force at both ends of the court, fouled out for the Cavs at a critical juncture. But Hunte’s brother Joel filled the void admirably.
The score had reached 59-52 with just under one minute left to play when Craigwell called time-out with the opposition shouting from the other side of the bench: “they are nervous.”
However if Bulls were to make one last desperate comeback it would have taken something pretty extraordinary from Gibbons and company. But that was not to be as the clock proved to be their biggest foe in those dying stages and they could make no further impression on the game before time expired.
Cavs, though, will have to improve their game going forward as one more player on the Bulls’ bench could have made a big difference last night.
In the other game played Hilton Resort Barbados Warrior who needed to win yesterday showed no mercy for VYB Patriots whom they mauled 87-42 with scores of 29-10, 48-16 and 68-24 after the first three quarters.
Jamar Headley had a game-high 28 points, Ricardo Toussaint netted 24 and captain Nicholas King scored 20 for the winners. For Patriots Cheyne Freeman scored 12 and Julian Walcott had ten and that was as good as it got for Patriots on the offensive end.