The Esso Blazers are far from ready to hand over their title.
Esso crushed the Dominos Warriors, 83-62, last Sunday at Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Centre. The regular season contest was part of Division One of the Cayman Islands Basketball Association 2013 National Men’s League. The start of the playoffs was delayed to accommodate the contest.
Shaad O’Garro, one of the reigning champions’ key players away at university, played only his second contest of the season and said the Blazers’ victory was about sending the Warriors a message.
“It was very important to beat Dominos, so that they know the guys are back down,” O’Garro said. “Seeing us back together, standing firm, will remind them that they should prepare for us. Each game is a battle and Dominos are tough opponents, so it was important that we played really aggressive on Sunday.”
Esso, under head coach Shawn Pitterson and assistant coach Carlos Pastor, showcased nearly its full complement of players including Jasen Campbell, Davion Cotterell and Deandre Simpson.
According to the latest collection of association results, the victory allows the Blazers to sport an 8-2 record, the regular season crown and the top seed heading into the postseason. The Warriors are 6-4.
O’Garro said earning a high seed had some importance prior to Sunday’s tussle. “It gives us a shot to play the weakest link. It’s something you would want – the easier road to the finals. So it was very important to win the match. If we lost, it would be a tougher challenge as the third seed could knock us out before the finals.
“Sammy O’Garro is still in school, Rashaad Powery-Saunds was in Jamaica, but for the most part, the guys are back and we’re all here.”
The third playoff seed looks to be the Silver Bullets. The squad improved to 5-5 thanks to a narrow 80-77 win over 1-9 George Town Sports Club. Last Sunday’s contest came down to Eckerd McField missing the game-tying jumper in the final seconds and Will Peguero Jr. nailing decisive free throws.
McField said mistakes, both by his club and the officiating, led to the loss.
“We just needed a little more concentration,” McField said. “We got some questionable calls against us as we got called for a foul on one end and didn’t get a foul called on the other.
“It’s some simple mistakes we got to perfect, that’s it. Regardless of what happened with the one-sided refereeing, we made mistakes as a team. If we capitalise on our mistakes, we can still get to the creme of the crop, regardless of what the refs do. If we keep the same team together, next season we’ll be contenders.”
The latest association standings reflect a quartet of recent results. Esso smashed George Town, 105-72, as five Blazers were in double digits led by Kevin Maxwell’s 22 points and 13 rebounds. Dominos thrashed Bullets, 87-70, as Jerome Narcisse went off for 42 points, including five three-pointers and 17 rebounds.
This month, George Town had a forfeit win over Dominos while Esso beat Bullets, 85-71, as Perry Levy led the Blazers with 23 points and three treys while Adam Milburn topped the Bullets with 23 points off six long bombs.
Matches are scheduled for this Sunday, 19 May, from 5pm.