By RENALDO DORSETT
PRIOR to their departure for Puerto Rico, national team coaches raved about the Bahamas’ shooting ability, but it was their resilience and effort on the defensive end which led to a gutsy comeback win yesterday afternoon.
The Bahamas opened play in the 2013 men’s under-17 Centrobasket Championship with a 68-64 win over the US Virgin Islands in the second game of the tournament hosted in Gurabo, Puerto Rico. The team is slated to face Costa Rica 4pm today in their second game of the tournament.
The Bahamas erased a 13-point second half deficit and forced turnovers on four consecutive crucial possessions late in the fourth quarter.
Rashad Davis led the Bahamas with 20 points, seven rebounds, four steals and three assists, Qyemah Gibson finished with a double double - 12 points and 15 rebounds – Shakwon Lewis added 11 points, while Jordan Wilson finished with seven points and 12 rebounds.
Rashawn Fredricks led three Virgin Islanders with 17 points and nine rebounds, Stephaun Adams added 11 points and 13 rebounds, while Jordan Murphy finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Bahamas trailed by as much as seven points early in the fourth quarter before an aggressive 3/4 court trapping press changed the complexion of the game from the defensive end of the floor.
Calcin Anderson split a pair at the line to bring the Bahamas within a single possession and, after a turnover, Sebastian Gray tied the game at 58 with a corner three with 3:33 left to play.
USVI would regain the lead on the following possession and could have gone up four, but Lewis drew a charging foul to negate a two on one fastbreak.
Davis would tie the game at 60 on a steal and fastbreak layup and Lewis would give the Bahamas their first lead of the game when he made one of two in a trip to the line.
The 61-60 lead with 2:09 left to play proved to be the go-ahead score for the Bahamas as they outscored the USVI 8-4 in the final two minutes.
Another steal and fastbreak layup combination from Davis gave the Bahamas a three point lead, 63-60.
Lewis went to the line and made one of two with less than 50 seconds to play, but a timely offensive rebound by Wilson cemented the win for the Bahamas.
The teams were statistically even virtually across the board.
Both teams shot 32 per cent from the field, but the Bahamas held a 15 point advantage at the charity stripe. They shot 22-39 from the free throw line, while the USVI shot 7-11. They also outscored USVI 18-2 in fastbreak points.
Both teams pulled down 51 rebounds and recorded 15 steals.
The Bahamas forced 23 turnovers while the USVI forced 25.
The USVI opened the game with a three pointer and raced out to an 11-0 lead.
The Bahamas reached the scoreboard for the first time at the 5:22 mark when Wilson split a pair at the line.
Davis scored the first field goal for the Bahamas, but poor ball security and shot selection led the Bahamas to a 17-11 deficit at the end of the first.
In the second quarter, the USVI opened with a three-point play, for a 20-11 lead.
The Bahamas shot just 9-34 in the first half, and 0-7 from beyond the arch as they trailed 39-27.
The defensive turnaround began in the third when Davis opened the quarter with a steal and three-point play finish to trim the lead to nine.
Lewis scored a fastbreak layup in traffic to bring the Bahamas within two (41-39) for the first time since the opening quarter.
USVI responded with a 6-0 run to extend the lead to eight before the Bahamas would finally make a shot from beyond the arch.
Anderson made a three from the wing and Davis trimmed lead to just three (49-46) with a runner.