The Barbados Amateur Basketball Association’s First Division knockout trophy will remain with Pan American International Insurance Corporation Warrens for yet another year.
Warrens were definitely favourites going into last night’s final against Police Sports Club, played at the Barbados Community College, and when the final whistle sounded their names were inscribed as knockout kings for a second consecutive year with an 80-69 victory.
Despite trailing in the first three stanzas, 17-16, 39-35 and 60-48, Police must be credited for pressing the opposition’s offence in the opening half. However, they failed to apply the necessary pressure coming onto the backend of play against a quality lineup of players on Warrens team including five former national players.
They were Bernard Riley who did not score but was able to play an effective role inside the paint as a power forward and defensive threat; small forward Peter Alleyne had a team-high 23 points; shooting guard Zahir Motara chipped in with 21; Pearson Griffith netted ten; and captain Kevin Austin added eight in a collective and workmanlike effort.
Warrens lost just one match for this knockout season as they dominated the competition throughout and charged over Police who led 8-7 in the first quarter of the championship game but quickly lost grip on their slight advantage when Austin and Beckles netted respective layups to give their team a four-point lead (11-8), forcing Police coached by Ian Greene to call time-out with four minutes and 13 seconds left to play.
On resumption, Police captained by Shawn Clarke found the basket for a two-point shot but Warrens responded right away through Motara with a three-point jump shot to extend their lead by four points (14-10).
Police remained persistent and managed to level the scores 14-14 thanks to consecutive twos by Nicholai Williams who had a game-high 26 points. It was a matter of who would have broken the deadlock and it was no surprise when Warrens did so compliments their three-point threat Motara who hit the bucket to give his team a 17-14 lead.
With a matter of seconds left, Williams, over six feet tall, effortlessly scored a layup to cut the deficit by one (16-17) for Police heading into the second quarter.
Also scoring for Police were Jamario Clarke with 12 points and Andre Stoute who tallied 11.
At the beginning of the second period, Williams was again in action as he scored the basket and an accompanying foul shot for three much-needed points to tie the scores 19-19. He reversed the lead back in Police’s favour at 29-25, but that was shortlived yet again as Alleyne nailed a three-point shot followed by two free throws and a layup from Griffith for six points in total to regain the advantage by two points (31-29) and from there on the momentum stayed with Warrens.
Stoute, one of the most physical players on the court for Police accounted for a few rebounds but was unable to get past the sturdy frame of Griffith, who had no problems taking care of business on the defensive end even though Warrens were without the services of Dario Cumberbatch.
Surprisingly though, Brian Parris who had the task of marking Motara and did a relatively good job in the first half, was benched for the entire second half.
Speaking after the victory, Motara explained that Warrens’ intention was to complete the double this year and unlike last year when they lost to Executive Air Dover 2-1 during the best of three semifinal league series, they were going all the way in 2017.
Where the final was concerned, Motara said: “We have a bunch of former national players who have been around for years and understands what it takes to win. I think Police played very well, especially in the first half and Nicholai [Williams] was a force all around the basket and we made a priority to stop him at halftime and I think Javid [Beckles] and some of the other guys who were on him did a really good job.”