By TENAJH SWEETING
Tribune Sports Reporter
THE Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture (MOYSC) Panthers and Bain and Grants Town Cybots are heating up in round two of the Bahamas Government Departmental Basketball Association (BGDBA) playoffs.
With the top three 2023 regular season teams battling to advance to the next round, competition levels have picked up at the AF Adderley Gymnasium.
Last year’s defending champions, the Panthers, rebounded with a 80-78 narrow win against the Police Crimestoppers on Monday night following their loss on the weekend.
The Cybots remain in the driver’s seat after collecting a 86-79 win to make it their fourth straight of the playoffs and second win of the series over the Bamboo Shack Patrollers.
Panthers vs Crimestoppers
The Panthers regained their footing in the best-of-five series on Monday night against the Crimestoppers. Coming into the game the series was tied 1-1 but the team closed out game three by two points following a big game by Kemsey Sylvestre.
Before Monday’s game the Crimestoppers’ game plan was to slow down the Panthers star and his teammate Roosevelt Whylly. However, the latter did not play but his teammate stepped up in a big way.
The former national basketball team member pushed his team to a 2-1 series lead after he put up a jaw-dropping 23 points and 21 boards for a double double in the victory. Additionally, he amassed eight assists, nabbed two steals and blocked two shots.
In one of the more competitive series of the BGDBA playoffs, the Panthers and Crimestoppers started the first quarter of play in typical form, evenly matched.
After leading 13-4 in the first five minutes of the game, the Panthers closed out the first period leading 24-22. The following quarter saw the score differential change to six points this time favouring the Crimestoppers who outscored their opponents 24-16 before the halftime break. The score was 46-40 as both teams prepped for the second half.
The third quarter saw the Crimestoppers lead 55-51 early in the period with Jeron Smith and Michael Furley Bain Jr leading the way. Smith ended the night with a team-high 17 points and shot 58.3 per cent from the field in the tough loss. Meanwhile, Bain notched 15 points, 6 rebounds and five assists.
Despite shooting more than 47 per cent in the paint compared to the Panthers’ 35 per cent, the Crimestoppers could not stop their opponents on the boards. The Panthers secured 64 rebounds to the 43 grabbed by the Crimestoppers.
Although the Crimestoppers also bested the Panthers in fastbreak and bench points, the team’s free throw woes soiled their chances of earning their second win of the series.
With 0.40 seconds remaining in the ball game, Sylvestre hit a big bucket to push the lead to 79-78. Cyril Rolle, his teammate, knocked down a key free throw to make the score 80-78.
On the final play, Bain was awarded two foul shots that gave the Crimestoppers a chance to play an extra period for overtime.
However, both of his free throw attempts clanked off the iron to close the curtain on the Crimestoppers.
Sylvestre talked about the difficult win against the Crimestoppers.
“We know being down two starters everybody had to dig deep and everybody just had to come and play. It took a full team effort, I was thankful to my team for giving me a little break so I could bring them home at the end,” he said.
He added that the Crimestoppers made a crucial mistake switching their defensive set to a box-and-one zone which he took advantage of on the go-ahead bucket for the win.
Cybots vs Patrollers
The Cybots are one of the more experienced teams in the BGDBA playoffs and it showed against the Patrollers on Monday night.
The team earned a seven-point win to push their series lead to 2-0 and will look to complete the sweep tonight at 7:30pm.
The Patrollers kept up with the Cybots throughout the first two quarters. The lead was 38-34 going into halftime with the Bamboo Shack team in charge.
However, in the third period the momentum shifted for the Cybots who started the quarter leading 49-44 and ran the lead up to 10 points to close out the 10 minutes of play.
The Cybots placed their feet on the gas pedal and got out to a 75-53 scoring run to earn a 22-point lead which was their biggest of the game.
Despite narrowing the lead down to single digits in the final period, the Patrollers were unable to regain the lead anymore after the second half.
Wayde Watson, head coach of the Cybots, said it was a good win and the Patrollers played hard and came back strong but was thankful his team was able to pull it off. He added that the goal remains to win every quarter and every game to advance.
The 2023 BGDBA playoffs will continue tonight at 7:30pm.