The greatness of Duran ‘Trini’ Whittaker in Cayman basketball has been established the last two years. His legacy continues to grow with another accolade to his name.
Whittaker is the head coach of the Wolves Under-19 basketball team, which recently won the championship for its age group. In a rematch of last year’s final, the Wolves took down reigning champs the Shockwaves of JML International Ltd 76-70. The contest, which concluded the boys segment of the Appleby U19 Basketball League, took place at The Arts and Recreation Centre in Camana Bay.
For Whittaker the U19 championship is the latest addition to his trophy case. He has the last two national mens titles along with a pair of Coach of the Year awards. All of that success comes from a man who was simply dreaming of forming a basketball club in Windsor Park six years ago. Whittaker remains humble, stating the victory was more about his team than him.
“I’m glad we won and it feels good,” Whittaker said. “It shows that hard work can pay off. It was a good finals as the fans were amazing and created a great atmosphere. The crowd was in it, the sponsors liked it and we came out on top. It was a good game though and I take my hat off to the Shockwaves who made a run at the end. In the fourth quarter they pressured us and they were on top of us while we focused on slowing the game down. We were a small team height-wise but at the same time we were 10-man deep.
“It was a good thing we had time-outs late to figure them out. They didn’t roll over and die being down 16 points and both teams played hard. In fact I would not have felt bad if we lost.”
Leading the DHL employee to victory were a trio of star players. Raheim Robinson capped off his six-year stint in the U19 competition by posting 30 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Fellow veteran player Peter Grant had 14 points, five assists and four steals while new recruit Neith Rhinegold had 14 points and eight rebounds.
All were certainly inspired to exact revenge for their loss in the 2009 finals. Whittaker is quick to say that regardless of the players’ feelings, last season’s result had no impact on this year’s performance.
“Last year we played just as well when we had Tikko (Moore) and they had Patrick (Barnes) and Brandon (Glasgow). That final makes no difference to us. We’re glad to be champions and it was even better to beat Shockwaves all three times we faced them during the season. Of course we would have liked to go undefeated as well. But we were prepared to spank the Reapers in the semis after we lost to them in the (regular) season and in that game we played tremendously well.
“The final was a team effort. Peter, Raheim and Neith all played well. But defensively we stepped up as we had to put a body on Rashaad Powery-Saunds (17 points, 11 rebounds). Aaron Kennedy did a good job fighting him off in the paint.”