Five years ago Duran ‘Trini’
Whittaker was in Windsor Park dreaming of forming a basketball team. Now he’s
at the summit of the sport in the Cayman Islands.
Last weekend Whittaker secured his
second straight national basketball championship with the Wolves. The squad
beat the Dominos Warriors 82-73 in game four at the Sir Vassell Johnson Hall of
the University College of the Cayman Islands. The victory allowed the Wolves to
clinch the best-of-five series three games to one.
Finals MVP Gary ‘Butcher’ McLaughlin
stepped up huge for his team with a game-high 24 points along with seven
rebounds. McLaughlin had help from Vanrick Felix (17 points and five steals)
and Dwight O’Garro (who had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds).
Dominos countered with solid
outings from Jerome Narcisse (24 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists), Collin
Anglin (19 points, six rebounds and four steals) and Jasen Campbell (10 points
and five rebounds).
Whittaker serves as head coach for
the Wolves and states it’s a great feeling being a repeat champion. “It feels
real good, it’s so sweet. We worked real hard for this and I hope we can win
again so that we can three-peat. Dominos gave us a good fight as they won a
game though to be honest they couldn’t beat us. It’s good to be back-to-back
champs. I’ll admit it wasn’t as sweet as the first one but it was still very
enjoyable. It’s hard to get to the top and it’s even harder to stay on top. We
did a good job of pulling together because we came too far to lose.”
Wolves won its first national
championship in its third year of existence last summer. The side beat the Esso
Blazers in the final. Thanks to that victory the Wolves broke George Town
Sports Club’s stranglehold on local hoops as George Town reeled off some five
Interestingly George Town did not
field a team this year, which led to the dispersal of its players. Three of
them played crucial roles in this year’s final in Eckerd McField (Wolves) and
Jasen Campbell and Antonio Thompson (Warriors). Whittaker spoke about their
impact on the matches.
“Both Jasen and Antonio missed
games for them, with Antonio serving a two-game suspension for technical fouls.
They had a good game in game two (which the Warriors won 91-73) largely because
we had Andres (Kirchman) defending Rotando (Thompson) and Collin (Anglin). But
we came back strong, Dwight was key for us and I’m glad we didn’t lose.
“Eckerd brought a whole of
basketball smarts to our team after playing for many years with George Town. He
was one of our new additions that stabilised the team (along with Vanrick
Felix, Sandi Jiminez and Brandon Glasgow). We had more awareness of our responsibilities
on the court because of them. In fact we’re looking to add two or three players
as we could use more young guys to complement the older ones.”
Unlike his players Whittaker will
not have a long lay-off from the sport. He will man the sidelines for the
Wolves U19 team which takes part in the U19 league next month. Nevertheless he
has plenty of competitive fire to fuel the continuation of the Wolves dynasty.
“All of the playoff teams were good
opponents though it should have been Silver Bullets who came through because we
wanted them. They wanted us and they left a bitter taste in our mouths. They
felt so confident after beating us in the regular season. Our guys are looking
forward to playing them to show we’re not scared of them. In four years we haven’t
lost 10 games yet so we’re not push-overs.
“Ultimately I’d like to give a
shout-out to our fans. Those fans are the best in the league, they never missed
a game. Our crowd came alive in the finals chanting defence and blowing their
vuvuzelas. They really inspired us. Also I thank my assistant coach Kenneth
‘Flicka’ Nicholas and our team sponsor David ‘Bolo’ Gooding of Rollers International.”