Cayman basketball is set to crown its latest champion.
Division one of the Digicel National Men’s League starts its championship series on May 25 at 6:30 p.m. Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Center will see the defending champion Sol Blazers battle the Dominos Warriors. Both clubs are used to squaring off on this stage, as they have battled in each of the last three finals. Dominos won the first clash back in 2011, with Sol claiming the last two encounters in dominant fashion.
One of the story lines for the series will be the role of players based overseas. Blazers have relied on a number of key contributors, like Shaad O’Garro and Deandre Simpson, who are in the United States for school. Jasen Campbell is a veteran guard for Sol and admits the foreign-based players will play a key role.
“The overseas guys are very important to the team, mainly because of their offense and defense,” Campbell said. “Deandre, for instance, is the best rebounder on the team. In game two against the Silver Bullets, he was there to stop that team getting a lot of offensive rebounds. Shaad is a great defensive player, along with Davion Cotterell. All of them make us strong. Without them, we couldn’t stay in the running for a championship.
Sol has a chance at a third straight title after getting by the Bullets in their opening round clash. The Bullets started out well, winning the first game 78-76, before dropping the last two games of the series. Campbell had his best showing in game one with 15 points and eight rebounds. Maxwell added 22 points and 14 rebounds, Josh Cotterell chipped in 20 points and 10 rebounds and Davion Cotterell grabbed 12 points. In the second contest, Davion Cotterell stepped up with 19 points and four rebounds and Simpson posted 12 points and 14 rebounds.
The Blazers were a different team without their overseas players in the regular season, limping to a fourth place finish at 5-5. With head coach Shawn Pitterson now having his squad essentially at full strength, it would appear the odds are tipped in Sol’s favor.
However, Dominos have an imported weapon of their own in Jerome Narcisse. The West Bay talent spent most of the year playing semi-professional basketball for the Tees Valley Mohawks in England and is extra motivated for playoff success here as his Middlesbrough side failed to make the postseason as expected. Narcisse’s arrival does make the Warriors resemble the title-winning squad of three years ago, albeit without legendary scorer Jorge Ebanks.
Narcisse had a tangible impact in the Warriors’ series against the Caledonian Lions as he scored 23 points and 11 rebounds in game one before leading the club with 27 points and 11 rebounds in game two. For Dominos veteran guard Christian Ferrer, who averaged 12.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in those two contests, Narcisse’s smooth transition back to local basketball is welcome.
“Ever since he came back, Jerome has been good for us,” Ferrer said. “When he came back at first I was worried, it’s been a long time since I played in the league with him. From playing semi-pro in England, you would expect him to demand things and changes. But he has complemented the way we play, he accepts his assignments and positions on the team.
“It’s a very big thing having him. It’s a big plus. I’m glad he came now as his size really helps with our rebounding.”