Like many of his Esso Blazers team-mates, Shaad O’Garro persevered through many campaigns.
All of them ended up short of a national basketball championship. This year, Esso broke through against the defending champion Dominos Warriors, a fact that O’Garro, 22, found fitting.
“They knew they were the champions and they had to come with a greater intensity,” O’Garro said. “At the same time we knew they were champions and we had to beat them with great intensity.
“This is my first championship and the whole team helped us win. We got good input in the film sessions, in practice and the coaches, head coach Shawn Pitterson and assistant coach Carlos Pastor, had a great part in it.”
O’Garro, a Savannah native, would see Esso complete a two-game sweep of the Dominos Warriors in the best-of-three division one finals for the Cayman Islands Basketball Association 2012 men’s league. Esso won game one 66-64 at Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Centre before closing it out in game two 95-71.
O’Garro had a good series, averaging 9.5 points, 10 rebounds and six steals. He would get help mainly from Davion Cotterell, 20 (who averaged 18 points) and brother Samuel O’Garro, 24 (averaging 14.5 points and 10 rebounds).
The LeMoyne-Owen College student states his fifth year with the team was a great success.
“I played from the Under-16 and U19 days, spending five years under coach Shawn. It’s been a great effort and I’ve been chasing this dream a long time. We played our game, we were close but never succeeded. Personally, it was our day now.”
On the flip side, Dominos saw the tables turn in more ways than one. The Warriors were swept after they knocked off the Wolves, who were the defending two-time champions, last year in two games for their first title.
Interestingly, many of the Dominos players are not overly disappointed. For veterans like Antonio Thompson, Esso’s triumph is well-deserved.
“The better team won and it’s well overdue, respectfully speaking,” Thompson said. “There are no excuses. They were more in shape, physically they were better and they were coached well.
“I’m like the Bill Russell of Cayman anyway. I’ve been to like 12 finals and I already got nine titles.”
Thompson, 30, made his biggest contribution in game one with two three-pointers. The real stars for the Warriors, who were coached by Shomari Scott, were Borislav Djordjic (averaging 26.5 points, 13.5 rebounds) and Rotando Thompson (averaging 18 points).
Nevertheless, players like Luigi Moxam state they are left impressed with the level of competition in the league.
“Basketball holds a big part of my life,” Moxam said. “I grew up with a great man like Victor ‘Voot’ O’Garro (the technical director for basketball), who passed on many traits like integrity. A lot of things stayed with me to this day, like being a good ambassador to the game.
“Basketball has gone a long way. It’s a privilege to be part of the generation Voot has mentored and represent Cayman in basketball. I do my thing as an entrepreneur, Shomari is there at the Department of Tourism and Collin is the Director of Sports. A lot of people are doing great things. A lot of young guys are playing with ambition in the league now. Basketball will continue to grow as long it continues to get the support it deserves.”