Rotando Thompson comes into this week’s local basketball playoffs with extra motivation.
His Dominos Warriors may have claimed division one’s top seed for the 2011 national men’s basketball league. But Thompson, 27, wants to redeem last year’s finals defeat to the Wolves, the reigning two-time champions of the Cayman Islands Basketball Association.
“I feel like our team is ready to get back to the championship game,” Thompson said. “We know we’re better now and hopefully we get the championship this year. Last year was pretty close. This year we’re 100 per cent ready and we can win.
“Last year fuelled the team. It’s been the talk the last couple weeks. Everyone is saying this is our year and we’re going hard for it.”
The numbers state Thompson’s confidence is well placed. Dominos ended the 2011 regular season in first place at 9-3 after sporting the best offence (scoring a league-high 1073 points) and second-best defence (allowing 871 points). Team captain Collin Anglin was his usual stellar self as he was fourth in scoring averaging 24.3 points. Thompson was decent averaging 10 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.
However the real star of the team was newcomer Borislav ‘Boca’ Djorjic. The Serbian big man finished the regular season second in scoring averaging 25.5 points per game and third in rebounding with 13.5 rebounds per contest. Thompson states Boca’s performance gives him peace of mind for the playoffs.
“We added Boca to go with Kenvall (Bryan) and I in the middle. We felt last year rebounding and defence hurt us. We have three skyscrapers now and rebounding, a fault we did not take care of, should be fine. In addition Collin is taking up the ball and scoring. He still looks sharp on the court.”
Thompson and the Warriors are taking on the Tarheels in the first round. The best-of-three series continues this Sunday at Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Centre. The Tarheels got into the playoffs with a 6-6 mark thanks to leading scorer Patrick Barnes, 19, who averaged 17.6 points and 4.7 assists per game while making 28 three-pointers. Barnes was the top scorer (22 points including three treys and 10 assists) two weeks ago when the Tarheels claimed a 85-82 win over Dominos.
Thompson states Dominos will not take Barnes and company lightly.
“We just have to play hard, we can’t take them lightly. They got a win over us and we didn’t play the right way. We can’t go in assuring a victory. We have to come out with intensity and start out by striking fear in their eyes.
“Patrick stands out to us because he can pull up from three at any time. He drained some threes against our defence. Ultimately the playoffs are well-balanced. Everyone will be well-prepared and playing their hearts out.
“I don’t see Wolves walking over team Philippines and I wouldn’t be shocked if the Filipinos win. Either way if we get to the finals we’ll be going all out. If we get the chance to face Wolves it would be a great feeling to take them on. Personally it would be more exciting to face those guys again.”