Loaded Blazers barely escape upset-minded Philippines

The Esso Blazers are lucky to be unbeaten in local hoops at the moment.

The side narrowly defeated the Moneygram Philippines 79-76 at Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Centre. Last Sunday’s division match was part of the Cayman Islands Basketball Association 2012 national men’s league.

Shaad O’Garro, 22, delivered the game-winning free throws for the 4-0 Blazers. O’Garro, one of four collegians who played for Esso on their spring break, states it was a mediocre effort.

“We played lackadaisical ball,” O’Garro said. “Philippines gave us a tough game but we came back and delivered. It was more intense in the second half but we came with more energy and were able to finish it up.”

Esso had a 12-point lead by half-time before being outscored by nine points in the second half. O’Garro had a relatively quiet six points, 17 rebounds and six assists. His brother Samuel O’Garro was the team leader with 20 points (including two three-pointers), 14 rebounds and two blocks. Perry Levy had 13 points, five rebounds, five assists while Kevin Maxwell had 12 points, 10 rebounds. The other college players, brothers Josh and Davion Cotterell, only combined for six points and three rebounds.

Philippines, 0-4, answered with a game-high 24 points (off three treys) and four assists from Christian Ferrer. He had help from Chris Lucas (13 points), Ugo Enzema (12 points, nine rebounds) and Neil Samson (12 points).

Bong Blancaflor, who recently took over the head coach duties for Philippines, states his side were beaten by athleticism.

“The team played a lot better and they worked hard,” Blancaflor said. “The Blazers are the toughest opponents as they are tall and fast. The O’Garros were killing us, we had no athletic players like Kevin (Maxwell) and we had to do a lot of defensive plays to stay in it. We also ran out of time.”