Bahamas crushes Nicaragua 116-62


Senior Sports Repoerter


MITCH Johnson had a monster game on Friday at the Jose Miguel Agrelot Coloseum in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico to get the Bahamas men's national basketball team back on track, but it came a little too late to get through to the playoffs of the CentroBasket Championships.

Back in action after having Thursday off to recuperate from their two straight losses, the Bahamas pounded Nicaragua 116-62 in one of the most lop-sided decisions at the week-long. The Bahamas improved to 2-2, but had to wait for the outcome of the game that followed between Panama and Cuba to determine if they advanced to the second round and qualify for the FIBA Americas Championships 2013.

Panama eventually won the game 94-66, eliminating the Bahamas from further play. The Bahamas needed Cuba to win the match to advance.

"The effort was there," said Mario Bowleg, who along with Wayde Watson, assisted head coach Larry Brown. "We had two games where we had a slump. If we had won at least one of those games, we didn't have to come down to a deciding game between Panama and Cuba to get in, but it just didn't happen."

In the Bahamas' best individual performance, Johnson went ballistic, scoring a career high 43 points, in 29 minutes and 20 seconds of play.

The 27-year-old shooting guard hit 17-of-27 from the field for an average of 63.0 per cent; 13-of-18 from two-point field goal; 4-of-9 from the three-point line for a 44.4 per cent and 5-of-8 from the three throw line for a 62.5 per cent. He also had a total of eight rebounds, five steals and an assist.

"He finally turned it on, but we were looking for that kind of performance from him all tournament," Bowleg said. "We wished he had done that earlier against a much stronger team like Panama so we can have moved on."

The Bahamas, playing without 25-year-old small forward Rony Cadeau, 26-year-old center Keno Burrows and 25-year-old small forward Gamaliel Rose  (all nursing slight injuries), had three other players in double figures. Center Kadeem Coleby, 22, had 14 points with two rebounds; shooting guard Taran Cox, 24, had 13 points, six rebounds and four assists and 23-year-old small forward Eugene Bain chipped in with 11 points and six rebounds.

Jamal Douglas, a 26-year-old center, had nine points, seven rebounds and four assists; 28-year-old point guard Marvin Gray had nine points, four rebounds and two assists; 21-year-old shooting guard Leon Cooper had seven points, two rebounds and three assists; 20-year-old small forward Kentwan Smith had six points, four rebounds and one assist and 28-year-old power forward Bennet Davis added four points and seven rebounds.

Mitch Johnson scored five of the first seven points as the Bahamas opened a 7-2 lead. The Bahamas went on to extend it to 36-16 at the break and by half-time had widened it to an insurmountable 60-34 margin.

The Bahamas, coached by Larry Brown, Mario Bowleg and Wayde Watson, won its first game in the round, 81-68 over Cuba, in a historic performance. In the Bahamas' first win over arch-rival Cuba in a major international tournament, Marvin Gray led the way with 16 points and six assists and Eugene Bain chipped in with 10 points.

However, the Bahamas ran into the Puerto Rican team on Tuesday, losing 88-71, to fall to 1-1. Gray again led the attack with 14; Gamaliel Rose had 13 and Bennet Davis had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Then on Wednesday, the Bahamas suffered its second straight defeat 78-70 to Panama as Kentwan Smith had 18, Mitch Johnson 11 and Leon Cooper 10.

The team, managed by Rodney Wilson, is not scheduled to return home until Tuesday. In the meantime, the team has received an invitation to play in a pre-game Olympic Tournament from July 4-13 in Argentina and Brazil.

"The federation will have to decide whether or not the team will play. If we do, we hope to ensure that we have as many players as possible to travel," said Bowleg, who serves as the first vice president of the Bahamas Basketball Federation. "It would be good for us to get the exposure playing against Argentina and Brazil before they go to the Olympics."


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