IT WAS A fitting climax to the Guyana Amateur Basketball Federation (GABF) National Club Championship, as Pacesetters produced a stunning display of basketball to hold off Colts 85-76 to capture the title at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall last Sunday night. A vociferous crowd at the country’s premier indoor facility witnessed the grand finale between the two teams, prior to which they saw last year’s winners Dyna’s Ravens defeat Linden’s Retrieve Raiders 72-51 to book the third place spot.
Ironically, it was Raiders whom Ravens had defeated to win the tournament last year.
Meanwhile, leading up to the final, it was expected that the tournament’s last game would have been one to remember, based on how the semi-finals played out, with Pacesetters overcoming long-time nemesis Ravens 69-65 while Colts defeated Retrieve Raiders 79-70, both games going down to the wire.
In the final, the teams showed no signs of tiredness or fatigue from the previous night’s duel and certainly put on a show that was worth every dollar spent to access the venue. They went hard at each other from the opening minutes of the game and maintained the momentum throughout the contest.
Colts had a four-point cushion at the end of the first period (19-15) but Pacesetters outscored them 21 to 15 in the second period to close the half with a two-point advantage, as the scoreboard read 36-34 in favour of Colts.
Led by Travis Burnett who finished with a game-high 28 points and nine assists, along with marksman Stephan Gillis (19 points), Pacesetters came out in the penultimate stanza of the game looking hungry; scoring the first six points of the quarter.
But Colts with their ‘No Retreat, No Surrender’ attitude that was exhibited throughout the tournament, applied a full court pressure on the Pacesetters which paid off and saw their back court duo of Shelroy Thomas and Dave Causeway do most the damage to hold on to a 56-54 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Thomas (19 points) and Causeway (17 points) did the bulk of the scoring while Nikko Fraser hit back-to-back baskets to spark a 8-0 run for the Colts, but, Pacesetters showed why they are considered one of the most feared teams in the sport here in Guyana.
Gillis, Burnett and Royston Siland – before he was fouled out of the game midway in the fourth period – put Pacesetters in control after Colts got too caught up in questioning the referee’s every call.
The distraction, coupled with good all-round play by Pacesetters, enabled the club to pick up the title and the $400 000 first-place prize, leaving Colts to settle for the $200 000 second-place prize.
Meanwhile, despite an impressive all-round performance from Retrieve Raiders’ Stephan Tappin (12 points, 8 blocks 9 rebounds), the Linden side were not strong enough to compete with the former champions, and conceded defeat.
Jermaine Slater led the winners with ‘double-double’ (18 points 10 rebounds) and Marlon Rodrigues had 10 points, even as Keon Cameron finished his night with 19 points for the Raiders who went back to Linden with $75 000 while Ravens pocketed $150 000.