At first glance it would seem a lack of substitutes would hurt the Dominos Warriors.
Most squads have at least 10 players on the roster that can not only keep team energy high but create a productive bench. Yet Dominos have used fewer than seven men in their championship tussle with the defending champion Sol Blazers and find themselves one game away from a title. For head coach Shomari Scott, a tight rotation has never been an issue.
“We have eight people on our playoff roster, some of it was planned and some necessity,” Scott said. “We had two persons, due to other personal commitments, that were no longer able to come out and we have an iron-man team that is cohesive and has much heart that has made it to the finals and is one win away from our second championship in four years. We want to thank Digicel for being a major sponsor this year and helping basketball to grow and I look forward to a great game on Sunday.”
The Warriors, the 2011 champions, are facing Sol in the division one finals for the Digicel National Men’s League. Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Center hosts the third and decisive game of the series on June 8 from 6:30 p.m. The Blazers, who beat Dominos the last two years for their titles, won game one by 22 points, thanks to double-doubles from the O’Garro brothers of Sammy and Shaad.
Game two last Sunday would see the Warriors win, 92-88, as Collin Anglin had a game-high 32 points, Jerome Narcisse scored 27 points and 12 rebounds and Chris Lucas notched 20 points. The Blazers countered with 19 points and 18 rebounds from Deandre Simpson, 19 points and eight rebounds from Jasen Campbell and 12 points and 11 rebounds from Sammy O’Garro.
Scott, who had no subs in the first contest before fielding six players last week, says his big men stepped up.
“In game two, we had one of our two big men present so this changed the entire flow and strategy for our game, especially on the defensive side. We all know defense wins championships and by having Collin Bodden anchor the middle, it changed the entire composition of the game.
“Game three will be determined by defense and whichever team makes the least amount of mistakes. We have a wily old veteran team so we are confident that experience will be enough to help us secure another championship. Blazers are extremely talented so it will be a battle down to the last shot, I am sure.”
Indeed, Bodden had a significant impact inside the paint with 13 rebounds – 11 of those on the defensive end. His presence did much to limit opposing big man Kevin Maxwell, who had just eight points and 12 rebounds for Sol after going off for 25 points and eight rebounds in game one.
Bodden’s impact, in Anglin’s eyes, was the key difference for Dominos.
“Having Collin back made a tremendous difference,” Anglin said. “Sol still got more offensive rebounds than we wanted but Collin was a tremendous force and a great rebounder. Jerome played well as usual and Andre Scott hit some big threes after a game one performance when his shot wasn’t there. It was a great team effort.
“For game three, as the great Phil Jackson said, the team that didn’t win has got to make all the adjustments. We just have to be ready to come out and play 40 minutes. Sammy and Shaad really hurt us and we got to come out and limit them. Having Kenval Bryan back in the lineup, we will be stronger.”
On the flip side, the Blazers are taking the loss in stride. After a mediocre regular season campaign and a tough three-game playoff tussle against the Silver Bullets, Sol are used to adversity. While head coach Shawn Pitterson admits he will have to tweak his tactics, he remains confident.
“Game two didn’t go as planned, we didn’t play Blazers basketball,” Pitterson said. “We had a few of our key players with two questionable fouls for the first and second quarter of our game, Dominos had a great opportunity to take advantage of that situation. I really appreciate having the opportunity to coach this talented team. I am very confident in them, we just have to make a few adjustments, execute and win.”
From a personnel point of view, Sol have no excuse not to win on Sunday. The side has their full complement of overseas-based players and steadfast role players like Jonathan Allen. Simpson, who was previously at university in the United States, says his squad remains resolute on achieving success.
“It didn’t go so good in our case, they jumped on us and caught us off guard,” Simpson said. “In the beginning, the game plan didn’t develop and the referees got in our heads. In the second half, we did what we wanted. I’m prepared, we know what to expect. They played their best game on Sunday while we had a horrible game. Do we feel it’s time now to three-peat? Definitely.”