The Esso Blazers wanted to keep local basketball status quo.
After a championship season where they overcame four other squads, the Blazers did not want to see just three opposing teams turn out for division one of the Cayman Islands Basketball Association 2013 National Men’s League.
For Esso assistant coach Carlos Pastor, the contraction of the league is an injustice.
“We play the same three teams I don’t know how many times this season,” Pastor said. “It hurt the league in general because everyone is automatically in the playoffs. How do you find motivation to fight for something that’s already given to you?
“It makes some teams comfortable to play us because when everyone makes the playoffs, it’s hard to be motivated for one game.”
A number of factors led to the contraction, which is nothing new to a competition that has a fluctuating participation level. The association grew stricter on registration deadlines and team fees. The Wolves, sponsored last year by DHL, did not field a team this year while 2012’s other competitor, the Moneygram Philippines, moved down to division two.
Interestingly, fewer teams will not equate to an easy repeat for Esso. The 2-1 Blazers are coming off their first loss of the season, a 90-82 overtime defeat to the 2-1 Silver Bullets at Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Centre. Esso were 8-0 last year, including a 4-1 postseason mark.
All six Silver Bullet players were in double figures. Omar Clarke led the way with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Brandon Glasgow added 19 points and nine rebounds. Team mate Rohan Webster produced 15 points, Chester Hurlston and Denton Cole had 13 points each and Adam Milburn notched 11 points.
Perry Levy was top scorer for Esso with 27 points, including five long bombs and five assists. Barrett Edri added 21 points and five rebounds and Kevin Maxwell notched 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Additional competition for Esso rests in the 2-1 Dominos Warriors, who recently crushed 0-3 George Town Sports Club, 92-54. Borislav Djordjic went off for 36 points and 19 rebounds, with Rotando Thompson adding 25 points, 10 rebounds and Collin Anglin contributing 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Chris Lucas led George Town with 26 points and eight rebounds while Kael Leslie posted 10 points and Eckerd McField notched nine points and seven rebounds.
Esso were slated to play the Warriors over Easter but the match was postponed. The Blazers are now in action this Sunday, 7 April, at Camana Bay against George Town at 5.45pm. Dominos play Silver Bullets at 7.30pm. Pastor, who mans the sidelines alongside head coach Shawn Pitterson, states he expects George Town and Dominos to have more confidence following the Silver Bullets’ recent win.
“Every time we play someone, they’re excited because we were undefeated last year when we won.”
Pastor and Pitterson also have their focus on the Esso Blazers division two side. That squad, which started out the year 0-2, was in action on Wednesday against rookie team New Jerusalem.
Sunday sees a division two match at 4pm at Camana Bay as Bruce Thompson’s Titans face Bruce Reynolds’ 2-0 Game Takers.