Thompson’s bid for redemption

For Rotando Thompson the word
redemption must play heavily on his mind. The Lower Valley resident is in the
national basketball league finals for the second straight year in search of his
first championship.

Thompson, 26, is the starting
centre for the Dominos Warriors, who face the defending champion Wolves in game
three of the best-of-five series on Thursday 12 August. The University College
of the Cayman Islands multipurpose hall hosts the action from 7pm.

Last year Thompson was a big part
of the Esso Blazers squad that finished second in the regular season and beat
the Silver Bullets to make the finals. Their championship run would fall short
to the Wolves (the regular season’s top team) as they claimed their first title
in just their third season.

This year the circumstances are
similar. Wolves are once again the toast of the league (regular season champs
at 13-1) while Thompson’s team was second-best at 12-2. In the playoffs the
Wolves swept their opening round series against the Bulls (they swept Colombia
last year) while Thompson had to punch his finals ticket by beating the
Bullets. In spite of history repeating itself so far the big man exudes nothing
but confidence this time.

“It feels great and I want to take
the championship home this time,” Thompson said. “Last time I was unlucky. This
time I feel confident. It will be a real intense championship series as both
teams won a number of close games this season. But this time I feel like I’ve
gotten better and more confident playing basketball. I’ve developed my skills,
had good team-work and getting to the finals is a good step. Hopefully we will
win.”

It was not an ideal start to the
series for Thompson and his Warriors team. In spite of good effort and a solid
game from forward Jerome Narcisse (20 points, 10 rebounds) Dominos dropped game
one 78-77. Point guard Jasen Campbell (seven points, four rebounds, five
assists) missed the winning shot in the last 19 seconds of the match.

Thompson played well and had a
relatively quiet double-double. He notched 10 points, 13 rebounds and three
assists. He also chipped in defensively with two blocks and a steal. As with
many close matches, emotions ran high as both teams clawed for a win. Thompson,
who played for Cayman at the Island Games in the past, states the intensity of
that match is indicative of facing the Wolves.

“Facing the Wolves is a rivalry,”
Thompson said. “They can take over a game at any time. You have to play them at
150 percent. You have to go all out because you can’t make mistakes. I’m sure
it’ll be a tight series the rest of the way in the end with no blowouts.”

In spite of his game one showing,
Thompson is coming off a decent regular season. He averaged 8.8 points, 9.1
rebounds (fifth-best in the league) and 0.75 blocks (sixth-best in the league)
per game. Most of that production can be accounted for by the minutes he shared
with players like Chris Lucas and Kenvall Bryan. Thompson is not bothered by
the statistics.

“It just feels good being the big
guy in the middle for Dominos. With Collin there there is more chemistry. It’s
not all on me as there are other big guys as well like Joel (Jefferson). It’s
not much different than with Esso when I had Kevin (Maxwell) beside me.”

The Warriors are Thompson’s third
team in his third year playing in the national league. Aside from Esso he
played with a squad called Trademarks alongside Kael and Chad Leslie.

Ultimately, in spite of all the camaraderie
he had with the star players, Thompson is ready to do what the Blazers could
not: take home the trophy.

“I’m going to go hard at it.
Blazers were a great team with guys like Shaad and Sammy O’Garro. I did my part
and we got to the finals then and I’m back in the finals now. I’m looking
forward to bringing home the championship.”

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Thompson is confident Dominos can win.
Photo: Matthew Yates
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