Cybots face Giants tonight in NPBA championships opener


Senior Sports Reporter


THE last time they met two years ago, the Commonwealth Bank Giants came from a 3-0 deficit to post a four-game back door sweep over the Mail Boat Cybots to win the New Providence Basketball Association men’s title.

Tonight at the AF Adderley Gymnasium, the two teams will clash in a rematch as the NPBA best-of-seven championship series gets underway at 8pm.

Commonwealth Bank, who only lost one game during the regular season series, booked their ticket to the big dance on Friday night as they routed the Mr Ship It Freight Regulators 127-102 in the fifth and deciding game of their semi-final series.

The Mail Boat, on the other hand, was just as impressive with their 102-86 decision over the defending champions PJ Stingers in their fifth and deciding game.

But both head coaches Perry Thompson for the Giants and Wayde Watson from the Cybots know that it’s not going to be an easy rematch, although Commonwealth Bank posted the victory in their only head-to-head match-up during the regular season.

“It’s going to be a really competitive series,” Thompson said. “Going into the championship round, the Cybots have their two headed monsters in Livingstone Munnings and Eugene Bain. So they are the two key people for them. We just have to do a good job of boxing out more than anything else.”

The Giants will continue to play the post-season without their leading scorer and stabiliser Michael Bain Jr, who suffered a dislocated shoulder and will be out of action for the championship.

“That’s a big loss on the offensive and defensive end for us,” Thompson said. “But we feel confident with the rest of the guys that we have. With them picking up their level of play, we won twice before with Ferly, one thing when he was out on vacation on a cruise and another time when he hurt his leg.

“So we’re used to winning with and without him. It’s a plus for us mentally, but we can’t take anything for granted because the Cybots are a very good team. We just have to be focused from the time the game starts until the end. It’s just kind of unfortunate for us, but I know coach PJ (Perry Thompson Jr) will get the guys ready. He does a lot of homework and researches, so I know he will get them ready.”

Watson, on the other hand, said they remember getting swept aside for the Giants are taking a 3-0 lead.

“It’s going to be a real competitive series,” he said. “They won the regular season match-up against us and they only lost one game during the regular season. They are playing good basketball and they even played a lot better in the post-season, even though they didn’t have Michael Bain. We are all banged up and tired, but I think the match-up is going to be really keen playing against them.”

If his Mail Boat squad can stay resilient, Watson said there’s no reason why they can’t win the title this year.

“We have to be resilient, respect the game, respect their team-mates, respect the coaches, respect the officials and, more importantly, respect their opponents,” Watson said. “And if we can put all of that together with our discipline and play with a lot of heart, we can win.

“The players on the Giants team really want to win and I think they are prepared to do that. My boys just have to play with a lot of heart and I’m sure that if my boys understand there not all of the calls will go in our favour, so we just have to watch it and play through it. We’re playing against a very dynamic team, even without Michael Bain, who hustles a lot.”

In their first two series to get to the championship, Watson said they found themselves with their backs against the wall, but they can’t afford to duplicate that against the Giants or the series could be over in a hurry.

“We want to take no chances with them. We have to play them to the wire,” he said.

Thompson Sr is predicting that the series could go right down to the wire, depending on who stays committed and focused and what they want to accomplish. On any day, any one of the teams can emerge as the champions and Thompson Sr said they are hoping that they will be the last team standing.

After game one and maybe game two, Watson said he will have a better prospective on how the series could go. But once he get a full team out, the outcome could be a lot different. The series, according to Watson, could go either way, bit he’s hoping and praying that it will be in favor of his Cybots.

Here’s how both teams got to the final in their clincher in the semifinals:

Giants 102, Stingers 86: Mark Hanna came of the bench and literally carried Commonwealth Bank on his back, scoring a game high 34 points with seven rebounds in 31 minutes. He was 11-for-15 from the field and 12-for-14 from the free throw line in leading their charge.

Jeffrey Henfield had 17 points, three assists and two rebounds; Lyndrick Storr had 11 points, six assists and five rebounds; Quentin Demeritte had 10 points, three rebounds and three assists; David ‘Skittles’ Taylor had nine points, two rebounds and two assists; Jarell Coakley had eight points and 17 rebounds and Kevin Hinsey helped out with six points and four rebounds.

Able Joseph got 21 points with eight rebounds and six assists to pace PJ. Batchlette LaFleur had 17 points, four rebounds and three assists; Vernon Stubbs had 15 points and four rebounds; Devon Ferguson had 10 points and six rebounds; Randy Williams had nine points and Dion McPhee contributed six points.

The Giants led 27-21 at the end of the first quarter, but they held a slim 47-46 margin at the half. However, they used a 30-22 spurt in the third to take a 77-68 advantage into the fourth when they stayed ahead with a 25-18 rout to secure the win. The Giants had 51 rebounds and 19 turnovers compared to the Stingers’ 41 rebounds and 23 turnovers.

Cybots 127, Regulators 102: Livingstone Munnings, in 27 minutes, posted a game high 32 points with 12 rebounds to control the attack for the Mail Boat. Munnings was 10-for-12 from the field and 12-for-18 from the free throw line. He also blocked six shots.

Eugene Bain benefited from Munnings’ play by scoring 28 points with seven rebounds and four assists. Lerecus Armbrister came up with 15 points, six assists, four rebounds and three steals; Ernest Saunders had 13 points, six assists and three rebounds; Brian ‘Tucker’ Bain had 13 points with seven assists; Cordero Pinder had 10 points and 11 rebounds and Dario Seymour added seven points.

Kenneth Pratt had 26 points and 11 rebounds to lead Mr Ship It Freight. Miguel Mackey had 17 points; Lamar Watkins had 16 points and three assists and Simon Cruz had 13 points and three rebounds.

The Cybots opened a close 25-21 lead after the first quarter and they extended it to 65-53 at the half. The Cybots took a 31-28 lead at the end of the third to go up 96-81. In the fourth, the Cybots closed out the game with a 31-21 spurt to clinch the series and advanced to the final.

The Mail Boat had a 48-43 edge in rebounding, but made 22 turnovers, compared 19 by Mr Ship It Freight.

Game two is scheduled for Wednesday at 8 pm with three and four on Friday and Saturday. If necessary, game six will be staged on Monday, April 18 and if they have to go to the seventh and final game, they will play on Wednesday, April, 20.

The winner will earn the right to represent the NPBA in the Bahamas Basketball Federation’s National Round Robin Tournament that will be played at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium at the end of the month.


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