By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
Team Bahamas was eliminated from FIBA World Cup ‘23 contention, but a pair of resilient efforts at home led to a two-game split in the latest window of Americas Qualifiers.
The team opened the window with an 83-79 come from behind win over Panama on Friday, November 11, but a fourth quarter rally against Argentina came up just short last night at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium.
The Bahamas is fifth in Group E at 3-7, with the sixth and final window left to play in February 2023. Canada leads the group at 10-0 and has already qualified for the World Cup. Venezuela, The Dominican Republic and Argentina are all tied at 7-3 while Panama is sixth at 2-8.
At the end of the second round, the top three teams in each group plus the best fourth place finisher among the groups will qualify for the World Cup.
Moses Johnson returned as the head coach for this window, assisted by John- Marc Nutt.
“I’m so happy with the effort these guys put forth. We came out a bit sluggish and flat in the second and third quarters against Argentina, but what we showed in the fourth quarter was that if we play for 40 minutes consistently, we can match up with anybody. We went down 16 going into the fourth quarter and these guys did not give up. They were resolute, they locked in and we made a run and we were right there. A few missed free throws, a few shots fall, a few less turnovers down the stretch, and who knows the result could have been different,” Johnson said. “I’m so happy with the effort of these guys in such a short time to turn around and have an effort like this, it just shows these guys can do anything once they put their minds do it.”
National team veteran Kadeem Coleby said this particular group came together on short notice and proved their resilience.
“This team is different from other teams we’ve been on,” he said. “This team has less talent but more heart in my opinion. These guys fought and it’s been a blessing to see us play big games, win big games and come close in big games so it’s been a real turnaround for us and I’m really proud of it.”
Bahamas - 83
Panama - 79
When Team Bahamas needed it most, Kino Burrows’ veteran leadership took command of the game down the stretch and led The Bahamas to a home win. Burrows scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter as The Bahamas overcame a fourth quarter deficit. The veteran forward shot 6-9 from the field and added five rebounds before he fouled out late in the fourth with The Bahamas leading by four.
David Nesbitt led three Bahamians in double figures with 14 points, Godfrey Rolle scored 10, JR Cadot scored nine while Livingston Munnings had nine points and game high 11 rebounds. Carlos Rodriguez and Josimar Ayarza both scored 18 to lead Panama.
Ernesto Oglivie scored 15, Trevor Gaskins scored 12 and Eric Romero added 10.
Nesbit scored six of The Bahamas’ first nine points and The Bahamas led by as much as 10 in the first quarter before Panama rallied.
A Gaskins three before the buzzer sounded trimmed the deficit to 24-23 at the end of one.
The second quarter featured four ties and five lead changes before The Bahamas pulled away with a final run before the half.
A Rodriguez three for Panana was answered by a Cornish runner to tie the game at 28.
Munnings’ three-point play was answered by another Rodriguez three to tie it at 31, then Nesbitt and Rodriguez traded threes for another tie at 34. The Bahamas moved ahead for the rest of the half when Cadot’s three from the wing sparked an 11-0 run.
Spain tied the game at 55 on a Rodriguez three and eventually took their first lead of the game since the first period on a Romero layup.
Panama opened a five-point advantage early in the fourth and seemed poised to pull away early, 70-65.
Burrows ignited a stagnant Bahamian offence with an alley-oop to Munnigs.
It was the first field goal on a 10-0 run capped by Rolle’s steal in the backcourt and layup for a 75-70 Bahamas lead.
Panama was able to pull within a single point on two occasions in the final minutes, but Burrows scored on both possessions to give The Bahamas breathing room.
Argentina - 80
Bahamas - 76
Playing the role of spoiler, The Bahamas cut an 18-point fourth quarter deficit to just two, but the rally fell just short as Argentina avoided its third consecutive loss.
David Nesbitt led The Bahamas with 18 points, 12 rebounds and four steals. He also shot 3-6 from three-point range.
Nesbitt’s dominant performance led four Bahamian players in double figures - Godfrey Rolle finished with 15 points and a team high six assists, Kadeem Coleby scored 12 points and Kino Burrows added 11 points.
Jaron Cornish and JR Cadot each scored seven.
Juan Valet led Argentina with 19 points, Lucio Redivo scored 15, Jose Vildoza scored 11 and Nicholas Romano added 10.
The Bahamas came out shooting efficiently from beyond the arc and made four three pointers in the first quarter. They trailed 19-18 after the first 10 minutes.
Argentina surged ahead with a 23-12 second quarter, took a 42-30 lead into the half and maintained a 63-47 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The lead reached as much as 18 early in the fourth when Romano made a driving layup for a 65-47 lead with 9:51 left to play.
Argentina maintained a 12 point lead, 73-61 with 4:08 left to play, but The Bahamas rallied with eight unanswered points and an 11-1 run.
Cornish made a pair of driving layups to start the rally, Coleby made a dunk and a layup, and after Argentina ended the drought with a free throw, Rolle converted a three-point play to make the score 76-74 with 13 seconds left to play.
Redivo made four free throws down the stretch for Argentina to put the game away.
Argentina converted 20-26 at the free throw, while The Bahamas was just 7-8 from the line. Argentina also got out in transition and had a 25-5 advantage in fast break points.