Newly crowned Division One champions City United Celtics charged from behind to clinch the best of three series 2-1 against Spartans and gain promotion to the Co-operators General Insurance Barbados Amateur Basketball Association’s Premier League.
The veteran Celtics team stumbled to a four-point loss 84-80 in the opening game but managed to recover well to level the series 1-1 last weekend when they won game two 70-62 to force a decisive game three which captain Sydney ‘Bouncer’ Rowe and his men won 92-71 at the Wildey Gymnasium last night.
Celtics steered their offensive drive well and commanded the first three stanzas 29-16, 44-40 and 69-55 compliments the talented veteran point-guard Adrian Stewart who had a game-high 33 points. Celtics’ task was made the easier as Spartans failed to communicate properly during some crucial plays down the stretch.
Rowe told Barbados TODAY afterwards it was a wonderful feeling to win division one and thanked those players who left their respective clubs to join Celtics, established eleven years ago in 2007. Most of the men who play for Celtics are over 40 years old and Rowe, also president of the club, said it was his intention to open the door for any youngsters who wished to play for a premier league team to join the club.
“Our plan with the older guys was to win division one and open the club doors for any youngsters that got dreams of playing basketball in Barbados. We asked some of our guys that played junior basketball with us back in 2007 and we get some good feedback [so far]… And we are looking for a coach too because I wear too many hats as president, coach and player,” Rowe said.
Celtics capitalized on several turnovers from Spartans, with Rowe who is the chief cook and bottle washer of the victorious team, registering14 points. Point guards Mario Springer and Stephenson Callender who was benched earlier on in the final quarter after five personal fouls scored 13 and 11 points each while Shawn Henry tallied nine.
In fact three minutes into the second quarter, the diminutive Springer began to free his arms and scored the first seven points to start that period and forced Spartans to change their defensive strategy to a one on one marking approach.
Spartans had quite a few turnovers in the match and point guard Jason Bowen was responsible for three of them that resulted in fastbreaks by Celtics, as the men in all-green scored six straight points to begin the second half.
Spartans down by 12 points (44-56) decided to bring on point guard John-Paul Alleyne who should have been off the bench a long time before. In fact, he should have been in the starting five and Alleyne showed just why when he scored as soon as he hit the court.
But Celtics responded right away through Stewart with a candy fade-away two-pointer followed by a long-range bulls-eye three-point shot over the head of Spartans’ injured captain Phillip Yearwood who struggled throughout the match with what appeared to be a right hamstring injury.
Stewart definitely had the hot hands and there wasn’t anything that Spartans defence was able to do to stop him, as the 47-year-old former national player took aim over the head of Spartans small forward Keon Young for another two-pointer.
Celtics then went on to lead 67-55 and it was safe to say that effort by Stewart combined with Celtics’ determination to win, led by captain Sydney Rowe, placed them well on the road to victory. With less than 30 seconds left to play, Rowe even hit the floor for a steal with his massive, trunk-like structure banging the gymnasium floor and leading to a fan in the stands yelling that it would take a couple thousand dollars to repair the area impacted by his landing. But Rowe’s impact had long been felt by the Spartans.
Spartans tried their best to keep in the game and even at the beginning of the decisive fourth quarter they tried to stay alive despite a ten-point gap. Spartans also sought to take advantage of the fact that Celtics players began to tire and they tried to press their defence hard inside the paint. But having worked so hard to reach that point in the game, Celtics weren’t about to release their grip on the title and came up with several long outlet passes to either Stewart or Springer for layups, and did so effectively so, as Celtics won by a whopping 21 points.