George Town Sports Club must feel they are invincible.
For the fourth consecutive year they have secured the championship in the Cayman Islands Basketball Association Men’s Division One League.
Last Sunday night at the Digicel Court the outcome was no different. Perhaps the only change was that the victory wasn’t a stroll as the finals went the entire three games – plus it happened in front of a standing-room-only crowd.
The first night GTSC defeated Shaolin 90-80, and Thursday night Shaolin defeated GTSC 132-126.
The second game will go down in CIBA’s history as being one of the most hotly contested finals on record, as the game went into triple overtime with Shaolin emerging the victors.
And by game’s end GTSC had only four players on the court as three of their top players were in foul trouble – Antonio Thompson, Mike Morgan and Lloyd Samuels.
While the final game did not go into triple overtime, it was no less competitive, and as National Technical Basketball Director Victor ‘Voot’ O’Garro told the teams: ‘Both teams can be proud of their performance tonight and throughout the series – we have a record attendance and you both played excellent ball.’
Shaolin began the scoring with two points by Jerome Narcisse, and Collin Anglin followed up with a three-pointer.
GTSC’s Antonio Thompson nailed his first three-pointer, taking the score to 5-3 Shaolin. Lloyd Samuel followed with two points for GTSC, tying the score at 5-5, and so it went. Shaolin scored – GTSC answered back. In fact, the quarter ended at 26-26.
The fans were cheering and jeering, depending on who they were there to see. One thing was sure: none of the fans were bored. One was overheard to say: ‘I love this game.’
GTSC opened the scoring in the second quarter with three-pointers coming from Samuels and Thompson.
Shaolin remained stuck on 26, and the clock was at 4.23 before the team penetrated GTSC’s defence. The first points came from Sebastian Sache and Anglin followed, bringing the score to 32-38.
But then GTSC seemed to go into overdrive to give their team some breathing room and managed to leap to a 10-point lead, 39-49.
A three-pointer from Shaolin’s main guy, Anglin, followed by a neat dip and tuck from Sache, allowed Shaolin to cut the lead to five points, 50-45.
GTSC had the last word going into half-time when Jonathan Mitchell went to the basket for a lay-up but missed – Samuels snagged the rebound and tipped the ball in.
The score was 52-49 with Shaolin trailing. Collin Bodden equalized the score in the opening of the third quarter – the fans went wild.
But Shaolin’s moment was short-lived as Mitchell took GTSC ahead by hitting a three-pointer that was all net.
Both teams dialed up their game, and the score seesawed back and forth with Luigi Moxam tying it up for Shaolin 58-58. Samuels scored two lay-ups in quick succession, and his team managed to stave off Shaolin’s scorers with a high-pressure defence.
The fourth quarter started at 71-65 with GTSC in the driver’s seat.
While Shaolin obviously wanted the win, it was equally clear that GTSC wanted it more, and with their talent as well as athleticism Shaolin just was unable to match their heart.
The stats also showed that GTSC had the board, scoring 11 three-pointers to Shaolin’s 8. Truth be told, GTSC only excelled on points as Shaolin outdid their opponents on rebounds 47-29, turnovers 15-10 and steals 7-6.
Samuels was GTSC top gun with 36 points, and Mitchell had 22 points and 5 rebounds. For Shaolin, Anglin led with 29 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds. Sache was second with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks.
GTSC coach Andrew McField thanked his team for a great performance and the fans for attending. ‘We do this all for you,’ he told the fans. ‘Our team has grown together. We have a history of winning and in the end we wanted it more.’
Shaolin coach Shomari Scott said: ‘We gave it our best and came up short.’