St George's slay Runnin' Rebels to capture SDF/JABA Southern Conference NBL crown

Observer writer

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

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ST GEORGE'S Slayers defeated The University of the West Indies (UWI) Runnin' Rebels 77-72 to capture the 2017/2018 Sports Development Foundation (SDF)/JABA Southern Conference National Basketball League title at National Arena last Saturday.

The Slayers managed to outscore the Rebels in the last 60 seconds after the two were locked at 72-72. The win also allowed the Slayers to avenge one of their two defeats suffered at the hands of the Rebels.

The Slayers, the Rebels, as well as Urban Knights and Pembroke Hall Warriors will oppose the champions of the Western, Central, and Eastern Conferences in the National Championship Play-offs.

Winning coach Rohan Robinson said it was a very good final.

“We got the players to train and were well-prepared for our opponents, especially a few new players. The key players were getting a bit tired in the third quarter and also they were in team foul trouble, so I had to pull them out to give them a breather and it gave Rebels the opportunity to capitalise, as they drew level at 58-58,” Robinson said.

“When the scores were locked at 70-70 only a little over 60 seconds remained on the clock, as they tried to mark Mark Rodgers out of the game due to his excellent shooting. But with the talent we have in the team, we were able to get the better of our opponents,” he added.

Meanwhile, losing coach Pete Matthews congratulated Slayers on their victory.

“We had a very good chance of winning the game but our shooting was a bit off in the closing minutes, and also a few fouls cost us the game,” Matthews said.

He added that the Slayers played extremely well to win a very good game. He said he is looking forward to the All-Island National Championships Play-offs quarter-final knock-out, where his team has a very good chance of winning.

The first-quarter action was dominated by Slayers through the effort of Mark Rodgers, Aundre Rose and Anthony White, as they outscored Rebels' leading shooters Jonathan Mitchell, Kimani Ffriend, and Ramal Carbon to take a 25-18 lead.

Slayers went into a 10-point (33-23) lead in the early minutes of the second quarter, but Rebels played themselves back into contention by cutting the lead to 38-34. They went into the half-time break with Slayers up 44-39.

A very interesting battle ensued in the third quarter with the Rebels tying the scores at 58-58, which brought excitement and loud cheers from the fair-sized spectators who were in attendance witnessing a thrilling showdown. The lead changed hands with the Rebels closing the third quarter leading 61-60.

The fourth and final quarter produced another keen battle between both teams, with the lead changing several times and the Rebels going up 68-65 with five minutes remaining. The Slayers rallied, however, to eke out a 69-68 lead with three minutes remaining, and kept their composure to clinch a thrilling 77-72 win.

Michael Rodgers was the principal scorer for Slayers with a game-high 29 points along with seven rebounds, and Aundre Rose added 18 points. For the Rebels, meanwhile, Jonathan Mitchell sank 18 points, Kimani Ffriend scored 16 points and had 12 rebounds, and Ramal Carbon added 16 points and eight rebounds.

Meanwhile, in the third-place play-off, former champions Urban Knights clipped Pembroke Hall Warriors 78-77 in a thrilling encounter. The principal scorers for the Knights were Omar Barnes with a game-high 27 points, Fabian Sutherland with 14 points and 14 rebounds, and Jerome Thomas with 10 points and 12 rebounds. For the Warriors, Damion Young got 25 points, Andrew Bell 14 points, and Andrew Whilby got 11 points and nine rebounds.

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