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Dangriga Warriors Survive Their First Game of the NEBL!!!

Last Saturday night at the Y-Not Island in Dangriga Town, the Warriors halted the galloping Bandits and pulled out a last minute win 57-56, giving the Bandits their first heartfelt loss of the season. The game in the first half was a mess of turn-overs and mistakes, particularly when the balls were in the hands of the Bandits. Those who are superstitious may have wondered if the court was not being influenced by spirits working in favor of the Warriors. The Bandits players committed a grand total of 25 turnovers for this game! The turnovers were of all sorts, ranging from lack of concentration and coordination to miscommunication and innocent passes. The first half of the game was also unimpressive in terms of plays and scoring.  The first quarter ended with only 13-12 in favor of the Bandits. The continued fierce struggle by both teams to try to get ahead in the second quarter was evidenced on the scoreboard which read 31-30 at the end of the half, with Warriors in the lead.

Dangriga Warriors Belmopan Point Bandits

In the second half, the teams’ performances improved, but only marginally; there were still visible inconsistencies. It was not until the fourth quarter that excitement was kindled in the hearts of the spectators as the lead volleyed from one team to the other. In the last minute of play, the home fans almost burst into tears after the Bandits took the lead by three points from two-two point conversions from Jamal Harris and Chris McGann to make the score 56-53. Nevertheless, the last 30 seconds of play action sealed the game. The Bandits made fatal mistakes in two failed attempts to score and capitalize on both occasions. Dangriga got the miracle they had prayed for to save the day. Their fans watched in suspense as their team aimed for and made the baskets needed to end with 57-56. The faces of the crowd were transformed from expressions of sadness and consternation to exultation and pride, as they experienced one of the most exciting wins they have had on their home turf. The lackluster play of the game was forgotten in the thrill of the last few seconds of the game. Fans left feeling that it was one of the best games they had attended!
It is unbelievable that even without a 24 seconds shot-clock; the Bandits players did not simply kill time in the last minutes considering that they had very experienced ballers on the court. Perhaps spirits were indeed present! Every team has an off-day, hopefully, this will be the only one that the Bandits see.  All teams need to understand that wins garnered on road will make a difference when playoffs get closer.  If the opportunity to make a steal presents itself, grab it, failure to do so may lead to future regrets. As proven by the Warriors, home games should be fought till the bitter end – one never knows for sure how they will turn out.  Those points will be crucial for playoffs aspirations. In this game, the Warriors were led by: Trevaughn Usher 16 pts 4 rebs, Jamir Flores 10 pts 9 rebs 4 assts 4 stls, and Shai Peters 8 pts 4 rebs; while in a losing effort for the Bandits, Jamal Harris had 17 pts 7 rebs, Kyle Pascasio 11 pts 8 stls, and Christian Rodriguez 9 pts 4 rebs. The Warriors are now (1-0), while the Bandits are (1-1). Week 3 will see Dangriga Visitng Cayo and Belmopan hosting Toledo.

 
Cayo Western Ballaz Returned West with 2 Wins Against the Northern Teams!!!

The game scheduled for Saturday night between Cayo Western Ballaz (2 - 0) and Orange Walk Running Rebels (0 - 2) had to be postponed until Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. This was extremely unfortunate as a sporting facility was given preference to be used by a "non-sporting event" above a basketball game. Nonetheless, the game kicked off at the Orange Walk Multi Purpose Complex on Sunday and it proved to be a great game as Orange Walk Running Rebels jumped out to a quick 12 - 8 start. However, Cayo Western Ballaz was able to shake off the nerves to end the first quarter with a 16 - 13 lead.   In the second quarter the team from the West opened an 8 point lead to close the half 34 - 42, as the bigs for Cayo Western Ballaz was dominating the glass.
In the third quarter Western Ballaz was able to maintain their lead, finishing the quarter with a 57 - 51 lead, sustaining an 8 - 0 run by Orange Walk Running Rebels. In the decisive quarter, Cayo Western Ballaz was able to come with some key offensive rebounds and a few key steals to seal the game 80 - 70. The squad from the west dominated the glass 47 - 33 while extending their lead to 14 points in the third quarter. Western Ballaz controlled most of the game as they held the lead for 34 of the 40 minutes of the game while they got 46 points off their bench, compared to only 22 for Orange Walk Running Rebels. The points in the paint slightly favored Cayo Western Ballaz 46 - 44, but they had more second chance points, 22 - 12.

For the winning team, Cayo Western Ballaz was lead by Farron Louriano with 22 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals and an impressive 10 for 14 from the field, which was 71% field goal shooting. Kurt "Chengo" Burgess had 14 points to go with the game high 19 rebounds and 4 blocks. Point guard Ivan Flowers sank 13 points while dishing out 5 assists and Travis Lennan chipped in with 12 points and 3 rebounds. In a losing effort, Randy Usher tallied the game high with 29 points on 8 for 19 shooting, while grabbing 3 caroms and snatching 3 steals. Leith Paulino finished with 11 points and 6 rebounds while Javier Gutierrez scored 8 points and 6 rebounds. This coming week Orange Walk Running Rebels will be heading to Belize City to take on No Limit, as they try to record their first W of the season, while Cayo Western Ballaz will be hosting their first home game against Dangriga Warriors at the Sacred Heart College Auditorium in San Ignacio, as both teams will be fighting to keep their perfect records alive.

 
Belize Elite Basketball League No Limit Soldiers Get Their First Victory In Corozal!!!

Team No Limit still had a bitter taste in their collective mouths after suffering the home loss on opening night to the San Pedro Tiger Sharks on February 7th . They all believed that it was a game that they could've won and should've won, but as with any team with so many new players, it takes time to build chemistry.  Next up on the calendar was the Corozal Heats, a team that has been together a lot longer than the Belize City No Limit Soldiers, thus had more time to familiarize themselves with each other's tendencies, strengths and weaknesses ; but like the city boys, they lost their home opener as well. So, going into the Friday night matchup in the northernmost district in the country, both teams were sporting a 0-1 record and hungry for a win. This game against the Heats was the Soldiers 1st road game of the season, but their departure from the city was delayed due to some works being done on the Philip Goldson Highway (formerly the Northern Highway) near Horizon primary school, that resulted in traffic inching forward at a seemingly glacial pace. Eventually, the team bus got past the road construction and onto the open road to Corozal. The bus ride to the Andres Campos Civic Center in Corozal Town was a great team building exercise for the Soldiers, as they talked about everything from Lebron James' gaming winning shot against the Warriors to politics in Belize. But when they arrived at the Corozal Civic Center it was all business.

When it was finally tip off time both teams had their game faces on, and were ready to get their first win of the season.  The Belize City No Limit Soldiers struggled out of the gate, as the Corozal Heats took control of the game in the first half.  The Heats led by as many as ten in the 1st half, only relinquishing their lead once early in the 1st quarter, as the city boys took a 15 to 14 advantage with 15 seconds left.  But the No Limit Soldiers wouldn't go down, as they managed to keep the game close going into halftime, being down 40 to 37. The 3rd and 4th quarter would belong to Belize City Smart No Limit, as they opened the 3rd quarter with a 15 to 4 run, holding the lead for all but 5 minutes of the half.  The Soldiers led by as many as 17 points in the 4th,  before the Heats eventually closed the gap prior to the final buzzer, to make for a more respectable final score of 78 to 75 in favor of the Belize City No Limit Soldiers. As a team, the Soldiers showed improvement from the charity stripe, hitting 14 of their 31 attempts (45%), which isn't great, but is still a step forward from the dismal 19 for 48 (39%) performance from the season opener.  Greg "Chippy" Rudon led Team No Limit in both points and rebounds for a double-double of 24 points and 12 boards. The always efficient Brandon Rogers shot 7 of 12 for 16 points, to go along with his 8 rebounds. And Andrew Ortiz, AKA "Mr. Throw It Down,"  would finish the game with 9 points and 8 boards, but not before he had a couple highlight dunks, including an especially thunderous tomahawk slam that seemed to suck all the energy out of those in support of the home side while causing pure euphoria for the city fans that made the journey. 

 
San Pedro Tigersharks win opening game of the National Elite Basketball League!!!

After a few years of hiatus, national basketball tournament is back! More importantly, San Pedro Town will see its share of the action too. The National Elite Basketball League (NEBL) kicked off on Friday February 7th with San Pedro Tigersharks picking up their first big win. Official ceremonies were held at the Birds Isle Basketball Court in Belize City after which San Pedro Town’s Tigersharks took on the Belize City home team.There are eight teams from all over the country in competition that will see all teams play each other twice (in home and away game). San Pedro Town is being represented by the legendary Tigersharks, Belize City by Smart No Limit, Corozal by the Heats, Orange Walk by Running Rebels, Belmopan by the Bandits, Cayo by Cayo Western Ballaz, Dangriga by the Warriors and Toledo by the Diplomats.

Belize City Smart No Limits San Pedro Tiger sharks

Opening the league was the Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports Honorable Herman Longsworth. In his opening remarks, Longsworth stated that the success of the tournament will be dependent on the public’s support. “This is the start of what we hope will be able to sustain indefinitely. That however, will be very much dependent on the community. The teams have to find a way to bring out the community to support the games.” After short remarks by the President of the National Elite Basketball League Isaac Rhys, it was time for the game.San Pedro Tigersharks brought in most of their players from the past Interoffice Basketball Tournament team, the undefeated Tuff E Nuff team, thus sports enthusiasts saw them as a force to be reckoned with in the NEBL. The island’s team members are Ashton Edwards, Darwin Leslie, Densmore Edwards, Doug Penland, Jamal Kelly, Keith Pollard, Lennox Cayetano, Linden Galvez, Marcel Orosco, Tyrone Edwards, Winston Pratt, Afrie Black, Luis Pitterson, Mike Adams and Rico Black (Player/Assistant Coach). San Pedro Tigersharks is being trained by US Coach Gary Isaacson. But the question on the minds of the spectators was if the Belize City Smarts No Limit team was ready for the caye team, having prepared with an electrifying introduction of players and a magnificent halftime entertainment. Well, it was settled on the court when the game got started. Smart No Limit opened the scoreboard and took an early two-point lead that was short lived when the Tigersharks responded with their own. In the first quarter, the scores remained tight with the home team lagging behind for the most part. When the first quarter whistle blew, they managed to take a one point lead with a 20-19 score.

Andrew Ortiz taking a jump ball, Smart No limits Coach Gary Issacson, Tigersharks

Tigersharks made a rapid come-back in the second quarter, heading into halftime with a 35-38 score. That lead started to expand in the third quarter with a 52-59 finish. San Pedro Tigersharks managed to add11 points in the early part of the fourth quarter, capitalizing in a number of free throws and even a few three-point shots. Smarts No Limit, forced to defend home turf, battled valiantly to make a recovery, but time was not on their side. Tigersharks, with a comfortable lead bounced the ball around, frustrating the home team and forcing a number of fouls. At the end of the final whistle, they had sealed the victory in a 83 – 78 points win. Wilson Pratt of San Pedro Tigersharks was named the best player for the night with his 27 out of the 83 points in game one. With the exception of a few scuffles between players and the upset of losing at home, the game ended rather peacefully, and the Tigersharks have begun their season on a positive note. On Friday, February 14th, Corozal Heats will receive a visit from Belize City Smarts No Limit. Dangriga Warriors will get a visit from Belmopan Bandits on Saturday, February 15th while Cayo Western Ballaz will travel to meet Orange Walk Running Rebels. The San Pedro Tigersharks have the longest journey next week Saturday as they face off the Toledo Diplomats in the Toledo district. The San Pedro Sun will have weekly updates as the island’s newspaper follows San Pedro Tigersharks both on their home and away games. Let’s go Tigersharks!

By Jorge Aldana - San Pedro Sun

 
Belmopan Point Bandits Hold Their Ground!!!!

Last Friday night at the UB Gymnasium, the Belmopan Point Bandits obtained their first victory in the 2014 National Elite Basketball League tournament by defeating the Orange Walk Running Rebels by a score of 79 - 69. The game had been scheduled for Saturday but the League suddenly decided to move it to Friday instead for logistic reasons. Although there was little time to advertise the game, Bandits’ fans did show up in the hundreds and were satisfied with their team’s performance. The Bandits took an early lead in the first quarter by a score of 23-13 and managed to keep it up to the end. Both teams started off focused, trying to limit errors and prevent turn-overs. Their success at this enterprise lagged as the game wore on as, in the second quarter, there were more mistakes and turn-overs than points on the score board. The second quarter ended with meager contributions of points from both teams, each only able to add a few points to the score board which ended: 33-25 in favor of the Bandits. The third quarter was more interesting and exciting.

Kyle shooting and hitting one of four three pointers Orange Walk Running Rebels

The Bandits’ initial lead was cut short by the Rebels who were able to draw the game then move ahead 51-48 with a shot by Randy Usher - Orange Walk’s key player who contributed 30 points for his team. It appeared that the Rebels had gained momentum and were on the way to stealing the Bandits expected victory. But the last acquisition player for the Bandits, Kylie Pascasio, came in big to save the night for the Bandits. He was a weapon of mass destruction in this last quarter, hitting four three pointers and ending with double doubles figures.  He is a rising star and one to watch in upcoming games.  Dorian Jones and Christian Rodriquez, old pros, performed as usual with 21 and 13 points respectively; Dorian also ending with double doubles figures.  There is a lot of room for improvement from both teams. The Running Rebels is a young talented team that needs height and experience. Bandits on the other hand, will need improvement on their team work and scoring drive. Hopefully, practice in the next weeks will oil up the rust built up during the prolonged absence of top basketball competition in the country - especially for the veterans of the team.


 
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