Bullets shooting for playoff kudos

The Silver Bullets do not feel like a forgotten team.

In spite of a third place finish in Division One of the Cayman Islands Basketball Association 2013 National Men’s League, the squad is eager to show itself as a contender for the national championship.

Head coach Redver Ebanks said while his team ended up behind the reigning champions, Esso Blazers, and the Dominos Warriors in the standings, the Bullets can overcome both in the postseason.

“My team can beat any one of those two teams, Esso and Dominos, at any point,” Ebanks said. “Sure, the Warriors beat us by 17 points in our last game but they only beat us by eight points combined in the first two games. Even with all of the college players coming back for Esso, I haven’t seen a real difference in how they play.

“We rely heavily on everyone we got on the bench. We have a lot of guys with specialized skill sets. We have shooters, rebounders, defenders, a little of everything. We got to play team basketball to beat people and execute on offence and defence. Once we do, we can beat any one of those two teams.”

According to the latest collection of association results, the Bullets went 5-5 during the regular season, trailing 6-4 Dominos and regular season winners Esso, 8-2. Ebanks’ crew lost five of their six games during the season against those sides, with their only victory being a 90-82 triumph over the Blazers back in March.

The playoffs, which centre on best-of-three series, started on Sunday at Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Centre with Esso facing 1-9 George Town Sports Club, the fourth seed, while the Bullets tangle with Dominos. Game two of those series take place this Sunday, 26 May, from 5pm with game three, if necessary, on 2 June.

Esso, under head coach Shawn Pitterson and assistant coach Carlos Pastor, heads into the postseason with nearly its full complement of players including Jasen Campbell, Rashaad Powery-Saunds and Deandre Simpson. The Warriors figure to depend on core players Collin Anglin, Borislav ‘Boka’ Djordjic and Jerome Narcisse and George Town feature Eckerd McField, Chris Lucas and Daniel Mowatt.

The Bullets had a less than impressive end to their campaign, barely beating George Town, 80-77. The contest came down to Will Peguero Jr. nailing decisive free throws.

Ebanks said a lack of focus led to the narrow victory.

“George Town didn’t win a game this season, their lone victory was a forfeit. A lot of teams go in against them not focused, thinking they’ll win the game. You need mental toughness to close out games, especially easy ones. Teams that are bottom teams usually give the most problems.

“Our first time against them, we didn’t know what to expect and we beat them by 44 points. The second time around, the team wasn’t focused as we knew we could beat them at any time and we only won by two. This time out, the players weren’t focused on playing hard defence.”

One of the players the Bullets will need to excel in the playoffs is Curtis Wilson. During the regular season, Wilson averaged 18.8 points per game in five matches. He states success will boil down to execution.

“Against George Town, we played as good defence as we could,” Wilson said. “Defence assists the offence and we got to make adjustments by the time the playoffs start. We were missing a few guys in the finale such as Adam Milburn, Stephen Shaw and Chester Hurlston.

“We got to batten down our defence, play Silver Bullets basketball offensively and defensively. With a little more corrections, we will be alright for the playoffs. In the playoffs, it’s anyone’s game.”

As the Division One playoffs rage on, Division Two looks to launch its postseason on Thursday, 23 May, at Camana Bay from 6.15pm.

The last available association standings showed Gregory Hamilton’s Game Takers, 8-1, leading Darwin Mancenido’s team Philippines, 6-3, Jeremy Strickland’s 4-3 Charterland, Daniel Quinland’s 4-4 Esso Blazers, Bruce Thompson’s 2-5 Titans and Michael Blackburn’s 0-8 New Jerusalem.