Team Guyana romped to a 2-1 victory over hosts Barbados when the inaugural Border Clash International friendly series between the two countries was contested this past weekend at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex.
Captained by veteran Jeremy Gill, Barbados impressively won 93-76 to take a 1-0 lead in Friday night’s opening match against their regional counterparts. But the Guyanese charged their way back with a 70-64 result to draw level in the best-of-three match-up on Saturday night. In last night’s decider, the visitors stamped their authority over their hosts with a 79-68 ( 24-20, 46-36, 62-45) scoreline. It was a game where the ‘GT side’ out-hustled the Bajans in most aspects of the game.
Victorious coach Junior Hercules credited the Guyana Basketball Federation for financing the trip and said: “After losing the first game we were able to regroup, we knew where we went wrong, it was a lot of nerves to the start of the game in a foreign territory, but we were able to adjust, and I am happy. We’re well conditioned and were prepared to play that up-tempo game throughout this series. We focus largely on our shooters, the spacings that afforded our shooters the ability to shoot, but we didn’t have effective three-point shooting up until tonight. So, we had to adjust, and the tempo allowed us to do that. We moved away largely from the three-point shot and we allowed our pace to dictate.”
It has been 30 years since international basketball tipped off in Barbados, but it wasn’t the kind of result coach Nigel Lloyd had hoped for, heading into the upcoming FIBA AmeriCup 2021 Caribbean Pre-qualifier in Suriname.
The final cut for the June 25 to 29 pre-qualifiers is expected to be finalized tomorrow June 12 but the Bajans will be without talented big men in Akeem Marsh, John Jones and Kregg Jones who are all unavailable. Barbados will need to rely heavily on Gill and fellow seasoned point guard Keefe Birkett who exhibited great shooting form.
Surprisingly, the veteran trio of Gill, Birkett and Charles Vanderpool did not play in yesterday’s decisive match in which Barbadian professional point guard Andre Lockhart featured and top scored with 13 points inclusive of triple treys.
Though St Leonard’s schoolboy Deroni Hurley excited the home fans with three treys of his own to total nine points, it wasn’t enough in the end to snatch the win. Six-footer Ricardo Jemmott also netted nine and there were ten points from swingman Junior Moore. But their collective efforts fell short of overcoming the young Guyanese team which was captained by Stanton Rose. He had a game-high 15 points last night that included three of five three-point shots.
Also making it into double digits were fellow point guards Ray Victor with 13 and Felice Hamilton 11. Guyana were defensively strong, accounting for a total of 53 rebounds with 35 of those on the defensive boards. Veteran Anthony Moe had the next best score of nine before being benched by referee Jennifer Hackett after committing his fifth personal foul with four minutes left to play in the fourth and decisive quarter.
Interestingly, Mark Bridgeman, one of the most experienced forwards on Barbados’ bench was not in the starting five and for some unknown reason was not utilized much last night by the coaching staff. The visitors took advantage as they ran the paint well with their offensive plays, were solid on defence, especially Moe who did well to protect the rim as there was no one in a Barbados shirt to really challenge him for on that end.
Guyana had the biggest scoring margin of 19 (67-48) in the fourth stanza while Barbados’ biggest scoring lead was in the opening quarter when they were down 2-10 and were able to spring ahead 12-2. Guyana were also able to dominate having secured 24 fast break points compared to Barbados’ 12, the Guyanese produced 38 of their points from inside the paint and 24 points from turnovers while the hosts had 28 and 11 respectively which showed the hosts had headaches being able to execute as well as they would have liked especially with home court advantage.
Speaking after the match, Lloyd described the experience as a great one for some of his players who had not played basketball at the international level before. Having got off to a great start Friday, Lloyd in his assessment said Barbados threw away possession and lacked aggression in the last two games.
“We threw the ball away too much, we had like twenty-four turnovers and then we give up 25 offensive rebounds. And the turnovers we had led to baskets for them, so we give them points and again today we had 23 turnovers. So, it’s a fact that we didn’t rebound well, and we didn’t take care of the basket, that was the key to the game,” Lloyd said.