Digicel and Esso shoot it out

An epic local hoops battle should be on tonight.


Diamond can be the star again for Digicel. Photo: Matthew Yates

At 6:15pm Digicel Broadband take on the Esso Blazers at the Cayman Islands Basketball Association Court.

Both teams are first and second respectively in division two of the Domino’s Pizza Men’s Basketball League.

With just one more week of games remaining before the playoffs, both squads are looking to cement their high seeds while getting an edge for a possible finals match-up.

Coming into the match Digicel are undefeated at the top of the division. Last year’s finalist have been solid on both ends of the court ranking second in scoring (407 points scored) and defense (324 points allowed).

Key for the side has been the play of stalwarts Gavin McMaster and big man Michael Burbidge. Also role players have stepped up big as Mike Diamond, Stewart Connelly and James Mcelvana have played well.

Esso meanwhile have just one loss on the year (a 68-62 defeat to Digicel back in late April). The Blazers have excelled due to a blistering offense that leads the division in scoring with 411 points.

Basketball prodigies Brandon Glasgow and Bruce Thompson have been the stars for Esso. Their ability to handle the ball, create their own shots and crash the boards has been vital for the Blazers.

Esso has seen key contributions from its young role players such as Michael Daley and Darryl Paddyfoot.

Expect a lot of the trends from their last encounter to play a role tonight.

Digicel first of all has to stay committed to rebounding. They had a slight edge in the first game 44-42. Wiping the glass well can open up a transition game for Digicel and put Esso’s defense to work early.

Esso meanwhile has to be active on defense. In the first game they forced 25 turnovers while nabbing 22 steals and three blocks. If intensity is there on defense then the Blazers will offset any extra offensive chances Digicel gets.

One of the keys on defense for Esso will be containing Digicel’s role players. Diamond, Connelly and Michael Lubin combined for 40 points and 20 boards. With McMaster out for the earlier game and Burbidge only having five points and nine boards Esso can take its chances with that duo.

Digicel meanwhile will need to contain the big men for Esso. In the first game Thompson and Paddyfoot combined for 20 points and 22 rebounds. If their play is minimized then pressure will shift squarely to unheralded players Stefan Bodden, Stephen Babb and Simeon Stewartson.

Also on the cards tonight the Ritz Carlton Lions do battle with Future Sports Club at 7:50pm. Both teams are at the bottom of the division with one win between them.

A pair of budding stars should take centre stage. Look for Nigel Ebanks to muscle his way for rebounds and be a force inside for Future while Mell Omier attacks the basket for Ritz Carlton.

Tonight’s game can essentially decide who gets the fourth and final playoff spot behind Cruze Solomon, Gordon Solomon and the Rock Hole Fyah Ants.