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Laventille wins Hoop of Life million
In front of a crowd of some 6,000 cheering basketball supporters, Laventille copped the $1 million first prize in the finals of the Hoop of Life Community Basketball League in Marabella on Tuesday night. South-based Marabella won the $500,000 second prize after losing their first best-of-three away game to Laventille at St Barbs on Sunday 88-71, and then following this with another loss at home in Bayshore 66-57 on Tuesday to bring to an end the season, the most lucrative basketball league in the Caribbean.
Steven “Lighter” Lewis of Laventille once again dominated the points, registering on the scoreboard a match-high 26 points from a number of turnovers. He was ably assisted by another of their firebrands, Kirt “Coto” Christian, with 17 points. But despite this win, coach Karim Bilal was not all that pleased with his team’s performance. Bilal said: “We knew Marabella was going to be a hard fight on their home court, so I put certain plans in place, but in the second and third quarters the defence was letting those plans go all to pieces.
“We moved away from the game plan due to many things but one of them I must stress was the fitness of the players,” the coach of the winning team confessed. Bilal attributed the suddenness of the Hoop of Life league as giving them little time to use the off-season to do much weight training and stamina building. Adding: “When you leave the off-season and go into the pre-season you have to do different work and time yourself to peak. “What I recognised was that during the season itself, the way it fell we were now concentrating on weight training and that is not good when you have too many tough matches,” stated Bilal
The Laventille coach did say, however, he was thrilled with the support from the community from the beginning. “There were sometimes when we were training they (community supporters) would get in the way and impede our progress. But for the most part they stood behind the team,” he stated. Although at home, Marabella did not have a good start. In fact, it was only in the middle of the first quarter that Marabella posted their first two points on the board, 11-2 the scoreline read, to trail 21-12 in the first quarter. Most of the southerner’s problems were their poor defensive effort. Another was that they were out-rebounded thanks to six-footers Ashton Demurrel and Lewis of Laventille.
In the second and third quarters, Marabella seemed somewhat settled and played more confidently, so much so that they topped the Laventille team 14-6 in the second quarter to trail 27-26 at the half, eventually taking the lead by one (47-46) after again outscoring the visitors 21-19 in the third. Marabella though, began to let their lack of experience show in the fourth period, and the score went from 58-53 in Marabella’s favour with 3.04 minutes left in the match to 66-57 at the buzzer, to see Laventille walk away the victors. The top scorers for Marabella were Damian Caton with 17 points, Corey Pascall with 10 while Asfa Grant added 10 points. The jump ball was done by MP for San Fernando West Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan and the winning cheque was also handed over by the MP, Marabella West councillor Gloria Calleste and also by National Security Minister Jack Warner, under whose ministry the Hoop of Life was run.
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