Rebels, Slayers to contest SDF/JABA Southern Conference NBL final

Observer writer

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

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UNIVERSITY of the West Indies (UWI) Runnin' Rebels and St George's Slayers will meet in the 2018 Sports Development Foundation (SDF)/Jamaica Basketball Association (JABA) National Basketball League (NBL) final, after both teams came out winners of their respective semi-finals played inside National Arena on Sunday.

The Runnin' Rebels, coached by Pete Matthews, defeated defending champions Urban Knights, coached by Oneil Brown, 65-56, while the St George's Slayers, coached by Rohan Robinson, turned back a spirited effort from Pembroke Hall Warriors coached by Wayne Stewart, 70-63.

The final is scheduled to be played on Saturday inside National Arena, starting at 7:45 pm, while the third-place play-off will be between the two losing semi-finalists, beginning at 6:00 pm.

Matthews was happy for the victory and he's now looking forward to the final.

“I am looking forward to another showdown with the Slayers in the final, as I will have a week to prepare the team. We have beaten our opponents three times this season and looking to win again and take the title.”

He added: “I won't be taking the Slayers lightly because they lost to us three times this season. They are still a very good team who you cannot underestimate, as they have some good players in their line-up.”

Losing coach Oneil Brown argued that this was the second time the team lost to the Rebels, not because they were better, but due to a few players missing the games.

“The semi-finals were played too quickly after the completion of the preliminary rounds, as a few players had injuries and others had to work.

“Added to this, the Rebels beat them to the rebounds with two players combining for over 30 rebounds, while Knights had only 20 rebounds throughout the entire game.

“I would like to meet them in the All-Island knockout with a full-strength team, as I know that they cannot win, as the players who were absent can face the roughness,” said a confident Brown.

Meanwhile, Slayers' Robinson said the game was very good though the players had to fight hard to rally for victory.

“The team was lacking in preparation as they did not train for at least three weeks coming into the semi-finals,” Robinson said.

In the game between the Rebels and the Knights, the victors led 21-17 at the end of the first quarter and 32-28 at half-time.

The Knights cut the deficit by two at the end of the third quarter to enter the last 15 minutes at 40-42. The Rebels then powered away for the nine-point victory.

For the Rebels, Kimani Friend scored 18 points and added 18 rebounds, Omari Green sank 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while Ramal Carbon contributed 11 points with 15 rebounds. For the Knights, Omar Barnes scored 12 points and Paul Oliphant also contributed 12 points.

In the other semi-final, the Pembroke Hall Warriors surprised their opponents to take a 24-15 first-quarter lead. The order remained unchanged as the Warriors held a nine-point lead (41-32) at the half-time break.

However, St George's Slayers turned their fortunes around in the third quarter to take a three-point lead (53-50) at the end of the final break, before going on to claim victory.

Michael Rodgers of the Slayers had a game-high 28 points and 16 rebounds, Aundre Rose contributed 14 points, and Anthony White scored 13 points, 16 rebounds, eight assists and eight steals; while for the Warriors, Michael Jackson scored 24 points with four three-pointers, Damion Young added 14 points, and Brandon Grant sank 12 points and snared seven rebounds.

All four teams are through to the All-Island National Play-offs to be contested in a knockout format which involves all four conferences — West Southern, Central and Eastern.

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