The Sol Blazers are eager to wrap up a third straight national basketball championship.
After a 22-point victory over the Dominos Warriors in game one of the finals, confidence is high among the winners. Sol head coach Shawn Pitterson says he is not expecting game two – at Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Center on June 1 at 6:30 p.m. – to be easy.
“Our plan is to win, we went through things in practice, I’ve been going over the stats,” Pitterson said. “I’ve been doing my homework, we got an answer for them and we’re looking forward to it. We know it won’t be easy. Everyone on the team is important, everyone has to execute and play their role.
“I’m really grateful they [the overseas players] are so committed to the Blazers family when they are here. It was a tough ride during the regular season so when the college players arrived it was an answer to prayer.”
Sol beat Dominos, 97-75, last Sunday to start their best-of-three series in division one of the Digicel National Men’s League. Kevin Maxwell led the charge with 25 points and eight rebounds; Sammy O’Garro returned from college in the United States to score 24 points, four 3-pointers and 10 rebounds; Shaad O’Garro nabbed 20 points and 14 rebounds; and Perry Levy had 12 points and seven assists.
The Warriors countered with 33 points and 12 rebounds from Jerome Narcisse; 19 points and nine rebounds from Collin Anglin; 13 points and seven rebounds from Christian Ferrer; and 10 points and nine rebounds from Chris Lucas.
Interestingly, Dominos played with no substitutes and only five players as much of their frontcourt were absent for personal reasons. Sol, meanwhile, produced 12 players including Rashaad Powery-Saunds and youngster Javon Seymour. As a result, Maxwell had his way in the post and his Blazers drove through the paint at will. Neither Maxwell nor Shaad O’Garro gave much thought to the series possibly changing with the arrival of the Warriors’ frontcourt in game two.
“We don’t think they have the edge over us,” Maxwell said. “We have the younger guys. They can say they have the edge but so did Silver Bullets and where are they now?”
“We’ve been together a long time, we have the chemistry,” O’Garro said.
Both Sol and Dominos advanced to the finals after their opening round encounters went the full three games. Sol, the fourth seed at 5-5, had to come back with two straight victories to stop the 8-2 Bullets, the No. 1 seed, while Dominos – the third seed at 7-3 – fended off the sharp-shooting Caledonian Lions, who were the second seed at 8-2. As a result, the Blazers and Warriors are facing each other in the finals for the third consecutive year.
Pitterson dismissed the idea that playing the Bullets made his team sharp for the finals.
“We came in to this series knowing it would be tough. We didn’t have a tough one against the Silver Bullets, it was just unfortunate they won the first game of that series. We don’t think we’re a dynasty but we would like to be.”
Game three, if necessary, is scheduled for June 8. The division two finals are also taking place this Sunday, with game two between Charterland and Smoothie King starting at 5 p.m.