Sports — 27 May 2017 — by Bernard Wagner
NEBL “In the Paint”

Tiger Sharks poised for third NEBL Championship in four years

BELIZE CITY, Fri. May 26, 2017–With its 69-60 besting of the Belmopan Bandits last Saturday night in game one of the 2017 NEBL Championship played at San Pedro, the Tiger Sharks stands poised to win their third such NEBL championship in four years; a feat which, when put in context from a historical standpoint, seats them as the next best thing to the celebrated Kremandala Raiders teams of the 1990’s, which won a remarkable four straight semi-pro championships during the period 1993-1996, and seven of eight such championships.

Sub-shooting guard Ashton Edwards broke out in a big way, hitting four from long distance for a team high 18 points in 16 minutes of play, but, more importantly, provided his team with much needed punch off the bench. Raul Roches and MVP George Williams also had a good evening, with 15 points 10 rebounds, and 15 points 2 rebounds, respectively. The Tiger Sharks hit 8-of-27 from three-point land, with 2 each from Douglas Valley and George Williams.

This game, until about mid third-quarter, was what most expected for the entire series – thrilling, physical, back-and-forth, with neither team being able to separate. This, until the Sharks, sparked by a Raul Roches jump shot, an ensuing slam dunk by Rassi Jenkins, and a three-point dagger by George Williams, outscored the Bandits, 9-2, to open up a ten-point 41-31 lead at the 7:39 mark of third-quarter play. The Bandits, however, responded quickly and rolled out an equally impressive 12-to-6 run, to pull them within four of tying, 47-43, at the conclusion of the third quarter. Unfortunately for the visitors, they would go scoreless for the first two minutes twenty seconds of the fourth quarter, which played into the Sharks’ plans, as they used this drought to choreograph a mini 13-4 run, to open up a 60-47 lead; a lead they would never relinquish, and which propelled them to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.

For the Bandits, Farron Louriano provided a team-high 17 points 8 rebounds, while Stephen Williams supplied 13 points 3 rebounds, followed by Richard Smith III with 12 points 17 rebounds. Belizean import Devin Daly struggled immensely, hitting just 3-of-18 attempts; he was even poorer from behind the arc, going 0-for-9. His teammate, Greg Rudon was no better, as he could only hit 1-of-9 shots, while missing all six attempts from down-town.

Game two of this series was scheduled for last night in Belmopan, and by the time we went to press the score had not yet been determined. A Bandit win will send the series back to San Pedro on June 3, while a Tiger Shark win will more than likely place them as one of the winningest franchises in NEBL history.

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