By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
WITH a pair of wins against Costa Rica, the Bahamas finished fifth at the 2018 FIBA Centrobasket Championship for women and missed qualification for the FIBA Women’s AmeriCup 2019.
The Bahamas defeated Costa Rica for the second time in as many games, 55-49 in their tournament finale at the Coliseo Juan Aubin Cruz Arena in Manati, Puerto Rico.
Brea Forbes had a game high 16 points and led three Bahamian players in double figures. Tracey Lewis scored 13, Leashja Grant had 10 points and 8 rebounds while Joette Fernander added four points and four assists.
Jennifer Sanchez led Costa Rica with 13 points, Natalia Galvez scored 11 and Ana Matamoros scored nine.
The Bahamas closed the first quarter on a 6-2 run and took a 13-7 lead at the end of the period. Costa Rica tied the game at 19 on a Daniel Quesada jumper with 51 seconds left in the second.
Forbes regained the lead for the Bahamas on a late jumper and they took a 21-19 lead into the half. Costa Rica had the highest scoring quarter of the game in the third.
After four lead changes, Costa Rica took the lead for good. They led 40-35 headed into the fourth.
The Bahamas responded with their highest-scoring quarter of the game in the fourth. The Bahamas trailed by seven (42-35) but erased the deficit in three minutes.
After a Costa Rica free throw, Forbes made a three pointer, Lewis made one of two at the line and Fernander made a jumper to tie the game at 43 with 4:27 left to play.
Grant gave the Bahamas the lead for good on the following possession. With a jumper. The Bahamas used a 14-0 run to take the lead for good, capped by a pair of free throws from Forbes.
Puerto Rico ended an eight-year drought and claimed the Centrobasket championship gold medal after defeating Cuba 83-54 in the Final of the regional tournament.
Mexico took the bronze medal with an 85-81 win over the Dominican Republic.
The top four teams qualified for the 2019 FIBA Women’s Americup.
“I’m very happy that we were able to finish the tournament with a 2-2 record. Costa Rica, although they may be very small, they’re very organised and they played a very good game. I’m happy for the girls because we didn’t want to end the tournament with a losing record. We know what our capacity and capabilities are,” head coach Wayde Watson said.
“Hopefully next time we will be able to put our best team on the floor. Not to disregard the players on the floor that represented this country but we know we have yet to field our best 12. They gave us all they had, I asked for a lot and they stepped up and played well on behalf of the Bahamas, themselves and their families.”
He said that although the team failed to reach the ultimate goal of qualification, the foundation of a successful programme is in place.
“Brea Forbes played really big for us, Tracey Lewis is a perennial national team player and she played well. Joette Fernander, this is her second year on the national team and with more experience she will be an excellent relief point guard. She had steady hands for us in the last few games. Ashley Moss is hurt and just trying to rebound, Marvia Dean this was her first time,” Watson added. “All of these ladies deserve accolades for the effort they gave and I can see the potential as we try to formulate the best team the Bahamas can put forward for the senior women.”
Forbes is headed into her senior season at Lees-McRae College.
“It is very encouraging, the first few games I didn’t shoot much shots, because I missed a few and I didn’t want to keep shooting and keep missing. To see them fall through the net was actually a blessing. It was a confidence booster to see shots fall through the nets other than in warmups,” she said. “This was my first senior Centrobasket so it was just good to get out there and see the level of competition that I can actually compete against.”
Grant led the team with averages of 14 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. Fernander led the team at 3.5 assists per game. Lewis averaged 10.8 points per game, Sha-Londa Neely averaged 8.3 points and five rebounds per game and Forbes averaged 7.3 points per game on 33 per cent shooting from beyond the arch. They opened with a 95-50 loss to Puerto Rico, followed by a 74-52 loss to Mexico before their first win of the tournament against Costa Rica, 60-57.