Sports — 30 May 2014 — by Malcolm Hyde

Belize City No Limit one win away from NEBL Finals

The National Elite Basketball League (NEBL) playoffs got underway over the weekend with a couple semifinal match-ups. The Tigersharks hosted the Point Bandits on Saturday night, and on Friday, the Belize City No Limit Soldiers journeyed to the Sacred Heart College Auditorium in San Ignacio to face the Cayo Western Ballaz.

During the regular season, the Belize City No Limit Soldiers were simply unable to defeat the Cayo Western Ballaz in not one, but two attempts. In the first meeting, it was shaping up to be a blowout in favor of the Ballaz, as the Soldiers were down 22 points at one point in the game. The Belize City squad would storm back in the 2nd half, even taking the lead in the closing minutes, but fell short, losing by just one point, 74-73. In their 2nd meeting, the Western Ballaz were without the services of one of their top players, Richard Troyer, and it seemed that the No Limit Soldiers would have their revenge. But the Belize City squad lost that game by an even larger margin, with a final score of 77 to 63. So, naturally, when the news broke that the No Limit Soldiers would be matched up with the Western Ballaz in the playoffs, some fans were a little bit less than optimistic going into game 1 of this semifinal series.

Cayo Western Ballaz fans are no doubt the loudest in the league, and they packed the Sacred Heart College Auditorium last Friday night for the 1st ever NEBL playoff game. The introduction of the Ballaz was filled with theatrics, complete with flame throwers, which further excited their home fans. And after the introductions and singing of the national anthem, it was time to get down to business.

The Belize City No Limit Soldiers played this game with a bit of a chip on their shoulders, knowing fully well that this Cayo team had beaten them twice in the regular season. The defensive intensity was high from the beginning, as the Western Ballaz played the first 6 minutes without getting a field goal. And at the end of the 1st quarter, the Soldiers had a 14-12 lead. The No Limit Soldiers continuously broke down the Western Ballaz defense, as guard Lincey Lopez seemed to get into the painted area at will. And emerging superstar Andrew “The Rim Rocka” Ortiz was able to put points on the board in a variety of ways, whether it be layups, finger rolls, bank shots, floaters, jump hooks in the post and, of course, slam dunks. Though it would appear that the Soldiers were in control, as they never trailed after the 1st quarter, the game was close, and the score at the half was 24-22, a fairly low scoring affair.

The scoring would open up in the 2nd half for both teams, more so for the road team than the home side, as the Soldiers would lead by as many as 16 points in the 3rd quarter.

The No Limit Soldiers started the 4th and final quarter with a 10-point lead, which the Western Ballaz would get down to 4 in the early part of the final period. The Soldiers would then quickly step on the gas and get the lead back up to 10, then 14, then at the 3-minute mark the spread was 21 points, and even ballooned to a 28-point advantage for the road squad. And when the final buzzer sounded, the score was 82 to 60, in favor of the visiting Belize City No Limit Soldiers.

Game 2 of this epic match-up is scheduled for this Friday inside the Bird’s Isle in Belize City, as the No Limit Soldiers will have a chance to close out the series on their home floor.

The charge at the gate will be $7.00 general admission, while those who attend the game wearing an orange or blue shirt will only pay $5.00. “Power through with the Orange and Blue; Belize City No Limit in 2!!”

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