The George Town native now has two players from the Cayman Islands alongside him in Lloyd Samuels and Jerome Narcisse. The trio have started off on the right foot by leading the Tees Valley Mohawks, who compete in division one of the English Basketball League, to a 85-63 win over the Medway Park Crusaders last Saturday. The match was part of the Men’s National Trophy competition, which is billed as the season-opening tournament.
Ebanks, 27, has added familiarity with Samuels and Narcisse as they led the Dominos Warriors to Cayman’s 2011 national championship. The Mohawks team captain said that together the chances of winning another trophy are high.
“We just played our first game this season and won,” Ebanks said. “I’m happy that both Jerome and Lloyd joined the team. It’s a stepping stone for them and Cayman Islands basketball. I was excited to suit up with these guys again and try to win some silverware this season. We came together a few years ago and won a championship for Warriors, so I hope we can come together again here and do the same thing.
“I think once they adjust to the speed of the game at this level, they will be fine,” he added. “I know they can play at this level because they are both very talented and hard workers. We’ve only been here two weeks and we’ve been in the gym almost everyday, getting up shots and lifting weights. I’m happy to see the dedication the guys are showing.”
Ebanks, last year’s league-leading scorer, was in mid-season form for Tees Valley, notching 25 points, six rebounds and five assists. The Mohawks will be looking for more brilliance during their next tournament fixture against the Worthing Thunder on Sept. 28.
From there, Ebanks and company play four more Trophy matches, with the last contest being Oct. 19 against the Manchester Magic. The regular season opener is slated for Oct. 26 when Tees Valley face the Newham Neptunes.
Mohawks head coach Steve Butler said Ebanks and company have started the season well.
“I’m really pleased with the effort we put in,” Butler said. “We still have a lot of improving to do, but we played as a team and all the guys contributed. I believe we are more balanced this season and maybe with one or even two more coming in to the team, we have players challenging for spots on the roster, so the squad is looking good.
“Jorge showed exactly why I wanted him back this season,” he said. “Our defense was a bit sluggish at times, but we will improve as the guys get to know each other more.”
Narcisse and Samuels, both 26, joined the Middlesbrough-based club this summer. Narcisse, a West Bay native, was a major offseason target for Tees Valley after excelling in Cayman’s national league.
The veteran was second in scoring, averaging 25.3 points per game, along with 7.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists. Narcisse propelled the Warriors to the finals, where they were defeated by Perry Levy and the Esso Blazers for a second consecutive year.
Samuels also played for the Warriors alongside Narcisse. He was brought in by Tees Valley to be a swing man and is listed as a guard/forward. The Mohawks hope all of their Cayman talent can improve last year’s form of a Trophy final appearance, a fifth place finish thanks to a 16-10 record and a league playoff berth. The Mohawks had a potent offense with a league-best 2,231 points scored, but their defense allowed a league-worst 2,141 points.
Ebanks, who signed a one-year contract extension with Tees Valley this summer, said he recommended Samuels to the team.
“I spoke with the owner of the team about Lloyd a few months before the season ended,” he said. “I told him he should take a look at Lloyd because he could help this team with his size and strength at the guard position.”