By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Skillful Ballers used a 102-92 triumph over defending champs Bay Side Blazers, after crushing Next, 125-57 and Bayside Blazers overpowering Splash Brothers 95-75, in the finale of the Hon. Julian Fraser Save The Seed Basketball League on Sunday.
Shakeem Blackmore led a balanced attack with 18 points and pulled 15 off the rack. Dione Blyden had 18 points and grabbed 11 off the glass for his double, duoble. Mikey Joseph and Diorys Joseph also netted 18 points respectively. Clevorn Alexander dropped another 10 on the scoresheet.
Hansen Donato was the Bayside Blazers leading scorer with 25 points seven steals, four assists and four rebounds. Kimani Stevens narrowly missed the coveted double with 17 points and nine rebounds. Tavon Phillip got his double double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Jameel Heywood who like Donato were flown in for the game, added 13 points and nine rebounds to the tally.
Seven teams will battle defending champs Bayside Blazers for the title as they finished in the middle of the pack at 5-4, behind Pure Playaz, who they beat for the 2018 crown at 8-1 and Skillful Ballers, 7-2, the top two teams.
“I come to win,” Skillful Ballers coach Ronnie “Gola” Simmonds said after his team subdued Bayside Blazers for Sunday night’s win.
“They said I can’t beat them and I worked out just for them. The guys started coming practice and that’s all I needed.”
Simmonds said he took away their point guard and nullified their ability to dish out the ball effectively.
“Once I took away the point guard, they were considered dead,” he explained “They can’t play without a point guard. They have a lot of guys who are trying to play point guard but, that’s not their right position. That’s all I did—took away the point guard.”
Jason Edwin who coaches Bayside Blazers was in awe of Skillful Ballers performance.
“We ran into a team that from one to 12, was focused and ready for the task at hand,” he pointed out. “At moments, we weren’t sure as a unit what we wanted to do. We’re still trying to figure out ourselves as a new team, we were like one player here, one player there but not as a collective unit, so when we tried to make a run, they answered back and it left us flat, so we’ll address that going forward.”
Bayside Blazers will face Momentum on Friday in the first game of their best of three series. Edwin said they were going to review film of the Skillful Ballers game, critique every possession and show players what they expect during games.
“Saying it on the fly, sometimes, it’s difficult for some players to grasp, but, we’re going to break it down and show them what we’re asking,” he said. “We will take away some positives and some negatives to help us improve going forward.”
Simmonds said his Skillful Ballers squad who will meet DA 3rd, is ready for the playoffs and beyond.
“We’re going all the way,” he predicted of his team that faces DA 3rd in their first round encounter “To the end,” he added. “I’m looking ring.”
Throughout the season, every team was gunning for Bayside Blazers and Edwin acknowledged that they have been pepped for them as they seek to defend their title.
“We have to get every player to understand that every possession will count,” he said. “Sometimes you feel like the calls don’t’ get in your favor but we have to play still. We can’t hold our head or hand our had on one call.”
There will be no games on Sunday and action will resume on Wednesday. Admission to the playoff games is $7 at the Save The Seed Energy Center.