|Giants force a decisive game five|
Guardian Sports Reporter
Published: Apr 16, 2012
Apparently, it’s not over in the New Providence Basketball Association (NPBA) until the defending champions, the Commonwealth Bank Giants, say it is.
With their backs against the wall on Saturday, the two-time defending champions came out to play. Riding to victory on the shoulders of big man Gamaliel Rose, the Giants pulled off a 75-68 win and forced a fifth and decisive game in the NPBA Championship series.
The MailBoat Cybots were up two games to none in the best-of-five series, but the Giants have come storming back. The Cybots came out firing on all cylinders on Saturday, connecting on most of the trips down the court. The successful shots on the offensive side gave them an early 13-5 lead. The Giants tried everything possible to score, but nothing was falling.
Midway through the first was when the shooting slump for the Giants ended, Mark Hanna netted a short jumper which was followed with a lay-up from Jackson Jacobs. Teammate Nelson Joseph drained a long two and in the blink of an eye the Giants had scored six quick points, leaving Cybots’ Head Coach Wayde Watson to call time out.
It was a new Cybots team when the group returned to the court. Point guard Ernest Saunders had taken control of his team. The switch in momentum came when Saunders connected with Eugene Bain down low. Slicing through the paint, Bain scored the next six points for the Cybots. Jermaine Storr and Joseph added two points apiece which gave the team a nine-point lead heading into the second.
Storr put the first points on the board for the Cybots in the second quarter. The Giants went with a fresh pair of legs in the guard position to start the second quarter. Coming in for Adrian Miller was Raif Ferguson who wasted no time in making his presence felt. In a man-to-man defense, Ferguson sized up his opponent with several crossovers which cleared the path for open jumpers. One of his shots bounced off the side of the rim into the hands of Hanna who made the Cybots pay with a three pointer.
Hanna’s three-pointer was the offensive spark the Giants needed. The team went on a 12-4 run and took the lead for the first time in the game. A one-point lead was short lived by the Giants as they made a critical mistake on defense. They failed to switch over to Nelson Joseph who was waiting on the right wing. He made them pay with a three-pointer. The Cybots were up by two now. Evening things out at 29-29 was Marvin Barr.
The score changed three times before the half. At the half, the Cybots walked into the locker room up by one, 37-36.
After playing two quarters of hard defense, things seemed to be falling apart for the Cybots. The Giants stepped it up, clearing the boards on both sides of the court. Eugene Bain was forced to the outside and that made way for Rose, who closed with 12 points. Top scorer for the Giants was Hanna with 19 and Jacobs netted 10.
It was a combined team effort by the Giants on the defensive side. Unlike their opponents, they stayed away from the full court press, dropping back into a half court game in the third. This seemed to work in the their favor as fatigue started to settle in for some of the Cybots’ players.
The lack of energy resulted in several turnovers all of which were converted into points by the Giants.
“Like I told the guys earlier in the game, for us to go to the next round was important but there was no game like the game tonight,” said Perry Thompson, head coach of the Giants. “It was a pivotal game. It was a do-or-die game. The guys they stood up to the test and I am very proud that they were able to come out with the victory tonight.
“We concentrated more on defense. Like I told the guys, we have a lot of weapons but we have to play better defense. If we play like we have played throughout the post-season it would be difficult to beat us. The first two games we didn’t do that at all. This is it. As long as we could tie this thing up we know that we could have the momentum going into the final game.”
Assistant coach for the Cybots, Lavar Johnson, admitted that his team fell down on defense. According to Johnson, the Cybots will pick it up and end the series with the title.
“One more game to go to determine the championship,” he said. “We haven’t gotten beaten two games in a row all season. This is the first time, but this team is a good team and we show that we can bounce back.”
The fifth and decisive game will be played tonight at the D.W. Davis Gymnasium. Tip-off is 8:30 p.m.