By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
In a matchup of old Leeward Islands foes, the end result was the same as the first time they met in St. Kitts in 1985 for the Leeward Islands Basketball Association crown. Antigua and Barbuda overcame an early 16-5 deficit, then overpowered the BVI and walked off with an 82-73 triumph in the bronze medal game of the Caribbean Basketball Confederation men’s championships on Sunday night.
It marked the second successive year the BVI has hosted and have had looked on in disbelief as their rivals jubilantly celebrated on their turf and more importantly, advanced to the Centrobasket tournament.
After victories over St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Cayman Islands, the BVI lost a one-point thriller to Barbados, 77-76, after coming back from a 17 points deficit. Then came an 89-70 loss to the U.S. Virgin Islands, but they advanced to the medal rounds on points by virtue of an 84-69 victory over St. Vincent and the Grenadines—who beat Barbados 70-63—as all ended group play with a 2-2 record. Then, they lost to the Bahamas, 85-68, in the playoff setting up the match with Antigua—a 108-66 loser to the USVI.
In the matchup with Antigua, it didn’t help that the BVI lost center Kleon Penn—who had five rebounds and two blocks— in nine minutes to a right ankle injury, trailing 31-25 with 5:42 in the second quarter and ended the half down four, 38-34. Steve Parillon too got injured and only saw 3:10 of court time.
Kelvin Samuel opened the BVI’s third quarter with a 3-pointer and Kennedy Bass scored in the paint with 9:21 left to give the hosts their first lead, 39-38, since sprinting off to 16-5 in the first quarter.
Antigua’s Captain Sharife Sergeant who scored two first half point and finished with 10, gave them the lead for good with 7:19 left, although the BVI came within 52-50 with on Randy George’s free throw with 40 seconds left. Although the BVI outscored Antigua 28-23 in the fourth quarter, Antigua closed with an 8-0 run to complete outscoring the BVI 50-32 in the paint.
Coach Keith”88” Malone said he had been preaching to his team about their attitude and readiness for the game as there has been a rivalry with Antigua for years. “As the head coach, the guys never bought into anything as they should and it showed up tonight,” he said after they lost to the Bahamas, 85-68 in the semifinals. “We just didn’t show anything on offense—not that Antigua was superb in what they did—we shot terribly. We turned the ball over, it just never worked and then unfortunately, Kleon (Penn) went down, our rim protector and it just dragged the morale and the intensity to win. If your big man goes down, I would say, lets fight for him at least. Then Steve (Parillon) went down. I can’t say the better team won. I would say we beat ourselves in this one.”
Earnest Scott lead five Antigua players in double figures with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Raviel Burton came off the bench and poured in 23 and pulled 11 boards. Lennox McCoy finished with 12 while Clinton Joshua added another 10.
Halstead Chiverton was the BVI’s top scorer with 22 points. Kelvin Samuel added 19.
“This victory is about a lot of sacrifice a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of time away from your family,” noted Antigua’s coach George Hughes. “We came in a week before and had a training camp here because we had players coming from overseas and we wanted to build that chemistry.”
Hughes said it was is just a lot of emotions for his team, as It’s the first time in 10 years they’re returning to Centrobasket. “We had a disappointing game against the USVI,” he said of Saturday’s 108-66 defeat. “But, we rebounded and got this victory.”
Suriname surprises St. Vincent
After St. Vincent and the Grenadines used a 20-8 third quarter advantage pad its lead to 65-47, Suriname who trailed by six at the half, pummeled St. Vincent 40-15 in the fourth quarter and placed fifth following an 87-70 victory.
Barbados finish seventh
Barbados—after a one-point thriller over the BVI and giving the USVI its biggest test—were upset by Suriname in the playoffs, then had to settle for seventh place after beating Bermuda, 78-73.
Cayman Islands keep Guyana winless
Cayman Islands used an 89-61 victory to beat Guyana—who went through the tournament winless—and finished ninth overall.