Ahkeel "Smally" Boyd and Maurice Francis showed their star quality at the Sangre Grande Ruff N' Ready 4v4 League All-Star Day at the North Eastern Multi-purpose Indoor Facility on Ojoe Road on Sunday afternoon.
Boyd picked up two awards on the day, excelling in the skills challenge and was later named the "Most Valuable Player" (MVP) of the feature All-Star match, which saw the best players of the league forming two teams battling for supremacy. In the end, it was Team Legend led by Boyd that won the feature all-star match 64-61.
In the skills challenge, players were to complete a course that essentially incorporated the skills required to play the game of basketball - dribbling, passing, lay-up, free-throw jump shot and a three-pointer in that order, in a time limit of one minute. The player completing the course in the fastest time was the winner.
Five players competed in the challenge with the fastest and most accurate two battling for the title. Boyd faced off against Keegan Diaz and he stopped the clock at 43 seconds while time ran out on his opponent before he could complete the final stage of the course.
The three-point shootout competition among seven players was quite competitive. In the first round, each participant had a minute and a half to connect as many three-pointers as possible with the top two players scoring the most moving to compete for the final.
Francis was best in the opening round, netting eight while three others, Kern George, Carlos Blandon and Marvin Hayes scored seven each to share the second spot. The trio got 30 minutes to earn the right to challenge Francis in the finale. In that round, Hayes was unlucky in not connecting any shots while George and Blandon could not be separated as both scored three each. Another 30 minutes was added on the clock and the two again battled to be the other finalist. It was George getting the win, hitting four compared to Blandon's three.
In the shootout for the title, Francis matched his opening total of eight in the allotted 90 minutes. Next up was George and he was on a roll and looked good to upset Francis but ended one three-pointer shy of the winning total with seven.
The day's event would not have been possible without the effort of coordinator Jeffery Harris and his staff.
"It was a huge accomplishment for the Sangre Grande Ruff N Ready 4v4 Basketball League committee to finally grant the community of Sangre Grande and the basketball fraternity of T&T the enjoyment of a full evening of basketball at the North Eastern Multipurpose Facility," said Harris.
"A huge amount of effort, time, dedication and commitment to the people of Sangre Grande went being the approval of this venue. From the constant back and forth with the people responsible to late night conversations with the MP of Toco/Grande and Sports Company, even a lot of internal conflict about weather and of not hosting the event at the venue. The price of success is high and I am fully aware that nothing great can be accomplished easily. Must have walls and obstacles which only makes the victory sweeter."
Overall, the small crowd was also treated to four All-Star matches. In the opening 4v4 affair, Jedidah Celestine was named the "MVP" after leading Grande Young Stars past Grande All-Stars, 31-27.
In the veteran All-Star clash, the players opted for a full-court match-up and though it may have been the slowest full-court affair, it did not lack entertainment with long-time rivals, Richard Mungo out of the East team squaring off against Barry Stewart of the West team. In the end, led by "MVP" Mario Davis, the East team prevailed, 47-39 on an occasion where the entry to the event, came in the form of donation for a worthy cause.
"All events carded for the evening were accomplished and the people were happy with the level of basketball talent viewed. I was expecting more community members to be present but 'Mission Accomplished'. A lot of canned food and non perishables were collected and all were donated to the flood victims of Sangre Grande and environs," said Harris whose invited guest included Kendrick Watche, one of the community leaders in Sangre Grande, National Basketball Federation of T&T (NBFTT) general secretary Claire Mitchell and Dayne Francois, NBFTT representative from the North East Zone.
The other exhibition All-Star match saw members of the Straker Nets team, for which Harris is a member of, split into two teams and getting the 41-34 win was the Black team over the White team. Sadiki Guerra of the winning team was awarded the MVP prize in the exhibition match.