Police guard Wesley Vincent did just enough to get his team its first national basketball title after topping Detour Shak Attack, 85-82 in overtime in the third match of the final on Sunday night, to claim the best-in-three series, 2-1. The action unfolded at the Jean Pierre Complex in Mucurapo.
Vincent picked up the most outstanding award for his contribution throughout the tournament which started in December. He ended with 16 points in the decider, hitting some key baskets which aided Police in a hard-fought three-point victory.
"It is a pleasure to win the title because everybody said we couldn't do it. The odds were against us because a lot of people was backing Shak Attack to win again, but we pulled it out. Thank God for that and thanks to our supporters," said Vincent.
Entering the deciding match of the series which was tied 1-1 after Shak Attack had won game one 76-64 at the Maloney Indoor Sports Arena last Sunday. The police officers returned with vengeance and convincingly secured the second match, 97-75 at the Complex on Thursday.
Shak Attack, as it had done throughout the series, jumped out to an early lead, grabbing a 25-13 advantage in the first quarter through the effort of both power-forward Andrew Ifill and guard/forward Kurt "Cotto" Christian again. The duo had been leading the two-time national champion offensively for the season and they did not disappoint.
Christian, who is known for his ball-handling skills weaved his way through the Police defence and finished with 13, while ifill dominated down in the post. He topscored with 27.
Police fought back also thanks to post players Dextroy Manswell and Phillip Alexander and shooting specialist Adrian Joseph, who ended with 25 points, 12 of which came from beyond the three-point arc, and closed on its deficit bringing it down to four (30-26) in the second session but Shak Attack coached by Gordon "Dred" Felix remained aggressive and was able to hold off the policemen, 45-39 at the half.
In the third period, the grey and blue continued to play "catch up" and a number of missed free throws did not help the situation. Police was fading fast and had fallen to a ten-point (55-45) deficit midway through the quarter.
Coach Oswin Davis called a timeout and when his team returned to the court, it stepped up its play and started to match Shak Attack offensively. Within the next minute, Police managed to cut Shak Attack's lead again to four (58-54) from off a three-pointer from forward Fabrice Fisher. That was shortlived as veteran forward Virgil Fraser answered back with his own three-pointer, to keep Shak Attack ahead 61-54. Police got some satisfaction to close the third session as Joseph scored one of his two free throws after being fouled in the last play of the period.
The fourth quarter turned out to be the most eventful for Police as it went on a run. Vincent drove in to score two baskets and Phillip slammed in a dunk, to the delight of its fan, to tie the score at 61-61. Soon after Fisher stripped Christian and went down the court to score a layup and gave Police its first lead of the match, 63-61.
The teams continue to trade baskets but in the closing minutes of the affair, it was threatening to seal the victory. With 52.6 seconds on the clock, Wesley saw an opening and drove to basket. He went on to score the basket and was fouled in the process by Orlando Mapp and earned a free throw, which he connected to give a Police a 73-70 lead.
Ifill got in on the action and brought his team within one (73-72) with another offensive rebound, easily dropping in the ball for two points. The intensity continued to rise and the pressure got to Sheldon "Cat" Christian as he was called for an unsportsmanlike foul sending Fisher to the line. He hit one of two free throws and Police looked set to claim the victory but Ifill spoiled the early celebration, tipping in another offensive rebound to tie the score 74-74 as regulation time expired.
Vincent was given a chance to win it on the free throw line after being fouled again but he missed both attempts forcing the overtime.
Again the teams exchanged leads as the battle continued. To the dismay of the Police unit, Manswell for the second match of the series final made his exit early as he picked up his fifth foul trying to win a rebound with 2:23 to go. At that point, the scores were tied at 78-78.
With 8.3 seconds to go and Police up 84-82, Joseph was fouled and he stepped to the free throw line and hit one of two.Shak Attack, needing a three-pointer to tie the score again, Felix ran a play to get the ball into the hands of Terrence Mayers and he fumbled the ball which rolled to Kurt Christian but his three-point attempt missed the target giving the policemen the victory.
"All credit to the players," said Davis, who copped the award for outstanding coach. "They worked hard it was difficult at times coaching a police team because of the constraints of the job. They made a lot of sacrifices. They worked extremely hard and were very disciplined. They wanted to win."
Game-3 Final Results:
Police 85 (Adrian Joseph 25, Wesley Vincent 16, Phillip Alexander 14, Ronell Winter 8, Dextroy Manswell 8) vs Detour Shak Attack 82 (Andrew Ifill 27, Kurt Christian 13, Virgil Fraser 9, Orlando Mapp 9). Quarter scores: 25-13, 45-39, 61-55 (Shak Attack), 74-74.
Most outstanding player: Wesley Vincent (Police)
Outstanding coach: Oswin Davis (Police)
Other outstanding players: Andrew Ifill (Shak Attack), Adrian Joseph (Police), Kurt Christian (Shak Attack)
Special award: Nathaniel Charles (referee)