Smoothie King is ready to announce itself as a force in local basketball.
After dominating the Phil-Cay Basketball Tournament, also called the Cayman Islands Basketball Association Division Three League, the squad now competes in division two of the Digicel National Men’s League. Standing in their way of championships for each group is team Charterland, who have emerged champions two of the last three years.
Smoothie King head coach Ferdie Ramiento says his squad, which consists of Filipino players, is motivated to finish off their magical run.
“The team has been playing in division three. We played in three championship games and won two,” Ramiento said. “We’re trying to make history in Cayman basketball and go up in the league as well. We’ve been together for years now and like Sol Blazers we are a family now. We work and come together. It’s not about the players, it’s about the team.”
According to Cayman technical director for Cayman basketball Victor ‘Voot’ O’Garro, Smoothie King would be the first team to win consecutive titles in divisions three and two. Smoothie King won the last Phil-Cay competition back in December.
To do so, Smoothie King will have to topple Charterland in game three of their best-of-three series. Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Center hosts the contest on June 8 at 5 p.m. The newcomers grabbed game one courtesy of a forfeit before Charterland won game two, 88-77, last Sunday. Jeremy Strickland led the winners with 24 points off five 3-pointers, Chris LeBeau scored 20 points and 10 rebounds, Will Koutney grabbed 17 points and 16 rebounds and Nathan Smith notched 10 points and seven rebounds.
Andrew Diaz led Smoothie King with 23 points off four 3-pointers, Jon Paul Azul chipped in 19 points and eight rebounds and Jovert Macasling contributed 10 points.
Heading into the finals, both teams were division frontrunners. Charterland were a perfect 7-0 atop the group before dispatching of 0-7 Rock Hole Fire Ants and 4-3 team Philippines in the playoffs. Smoothie King had a successful rookie campaign with a 6-1 mark, good enough for the No. 2 seed, and postseason victories over 2-5 Juniors and 4-3 NEC Titans.
Ramiento says his squad does enough on the court to contend with the 2011 and 2012 champions.
“The talent of the players is there. Our only disadvantage is height. But we can play up to them. We played Juniors very fast, with more transition basketball, and we did defend man-to-man. We do a lot of things on defense. Charterland has won many titles and they have been here before but we can play good basketball and hang with them.”