Barbados Hilton Resort Warriors showed their fighting spirit by coming from behind twice to tie the series 2-2, but reigning champions Barbados Lumber Company still retained their title from last year with a 68-51 victory last night at the Barbados Community College.
The Co-operators General Insurance Barbados Amateur Basketball Association Premier League game five was entertaining, as both teams traded high-flying dunks. But it was the defending kings Lakers who brought their best on court to emerge triumphant having dominated 23-13, 36-24 and 49-37 in the first three stanzas of the final.
National power forward John Jones and Chiamaka Browne, the son of former national player Derek Browne, were adjudged most valuable players. Jones, with an average of over 20-points in the final, ended with a game-high 23 points while Browne tallied 14 points last night.
Speaking after the match, Jones who celebrated his 26th birthday two days ago said this was his first championship at home and for him, it was one of the best feelings. “I grew up with all of these guys and we came from playing Under-21 straight up, so this is honestly a good feeling to have a brotherhood like this and win,” Jones stated.
Meanwhile his teammate and point-guard Chiamaka Browne who is graduating in December from Wingate University Athletics with a degree in sports psychology said: “It is a great feeling doing it back to back, these guys held it down all season and I just like to come in and help out in the best way that I can.”
The Francis Williams-coached Lakers team with Derek Browne as his assistant captured their sixth premier league title having reached ten finals over the years.
Jones and Browne occupied the court for over 34 minutes during the one hour and 33-minutes long fifth game officiated by referee Rene Batson and Richard Walrond. Jones, who plays professionally overseas, sank ten two-point shots from 14 attempts, had 11 rebounds with nine defensive, two lovely block shots and a steal. Browne hit double treys for Lakers along with four two-point shots and was very effective with the assist having accounted for 11 of them.
Lakers centre Ricardo Jemmott also had a good night on court registering 17 points and was the only other player to reach double digits. Captain Keefe Birkett had the next best figures of eight while three other players Mark Bridgeman, Andre Boadu and Ormond Hayne with the opening shot of the game, all totalled two points each.
The score was locked six-all and Birkett, a national shooting guard decided to ‘Up De Ting’ with two consecutive treys followed by a two-point shot for a total of eight points, followed by Browne with seven points inclusive of a three-point shot, as Lakers took control of proceedings on the offensive end to lead by ten points [23-13] when the first quarter concluded.
Every time Warriors and their coach Frederick Bynoe drafted up a plan and managed to fight their way back into the all-important contest, Lakers switched to another gear. Case in point the second stanza when Warriors reduced their deficit by seven 25-18 but lost their footing yet again, as Lakers at halftime secured a hard-fought 12-point advantage [36-24].
Warriors showed some fight in the penultimate stanza at 29-38 when point guard Tramaine Shaw nailed a beautiful three-point shot to keep his team in the hunt and just six points behind at 32-38. But passing was a high point of Lakers’ game and center Jemmott decided to go big with two consecutive dunks for a total of four points and further extended the scoring momentum for his side which forced Warriors to call timeout with four remaining minutes left to play in the third quarter.
Lakers secured their biggest scoring lead of 17 in the decisive period when it mattered most, as they took the attack to Warriors who won game two and four in the best of five series but clearly were no match for the opposition when it mattered most.