SAN IGNACIO TOWN, Sun. May 8, 2016–On Saturday night, two-time defending champions, San Pedro Tiger Sharks hosted Smart Belize Hurricanes in front of a packed auditorium at the San Pedro High School, in game 2 of the NEBL Finals. San Pedro Tiger Sharks lost 3 regular season games this season, for the first time in franchise history, but they are still undefeated at home in the playoffs. A win by the visiting team, Smart Belize Hurricanes, would have given them a sweep of the best-of-three series and their first NEBL championship; while San Pedro Tiger Sharks had their backs against the wall, in a must-win game, to send the series back to the city for game 3.
As the game tipped off, the Tiger Sharks jumped out to an early 8-0 lead, with Douglas Valley scoring 7 of those 8 points. However, the Hurricanes closed the lead mid-way through the first, trailing 17-13, and the home team led at the end of the first quarter, 34-28, and had a 5 point lead going into intermission, 53-48. Each time San Pedro Tiger Sharks went on an offensive run, the visitors were able to respond, to keep the game close. San Pedro had a double-digit lead 6 times in the game, and each time Smart Belize Hurricanes was able to cut the deficit to 3 or 4 points. The Tiger Sharks led the entire game, and their biggest lead was 13 points. Mid way through the fourth quarter, Tiger Sharks had an 86-80 lead, ending the game on a 15-8 run, to comfortably grab the 101-88 victory. With the win, the series is tied up at one game apiece, with the third and final game scheduled to take place in Belize City, where a champion will be crowned.
Ashton Edwards played his first game of the playoffs tonight, and he came up huge for the home squad with his leadership, poise and great shooting. He tallied 30 pts, 3 rebs, 2 assists and 2 steals, including 5 three-point shots; while Douglas Valley had another great game with 20 pts and 5 rebs. Andrew “Bynum” Ortiz had his second monster game of this series with 18 pts, 8 rebs, 3 steals and 2 assists.
Smart Belize Hurricanes was led by the league’s MVP, Farron Louriano, who recorded another huge game in the playoffs with 30 pts, 6 rebs and 2 assists. Darwin “Puppy” Leslie finished with 15 pts and 2 assists; while this year’s rookie, Glency “Coope” Lopez sank 14 pts to go with 3 steals and 2 boards.
San Pedro Tiger Sharks had a 38-36 rebounding edge, also holding a 21-11 advantage on points off turnovers. Smart Belize Hurricanes had a 24-18 advantage on second chance points, while San Pedro Tiger Sharks had a 61-26 edge on bench scoring. The Tiger Sharks’ bench was excellent in their second consecutive game, as they scored more than half of their team’s points. The Hurricanes shot 44% from the field in their second consecutive game, while the Tiger Sharks’ field goal percentage was an impressive 57%, including 42% shooting from beyond the arc. Smart Belize Hurricanes shot 37 free throws, hitting 70% of their attempts, compared to San Pedro Tiger Sharks’ 15 of 27 shooting from the charity stripe.
The third and deciding game of the NEBL finals will be on Friday, May 13, at 9:00 p.m. at the Belize Elementary School gym, known as the Hurricane Shelter. It’s “winner takes all” on Friday night, in the final game of the 2016 NEBL season.
The game can be followed live on our website at nebl.sportingpulse.net, with real time box scores while the game is being played. The website also has all game scores, box scores, players’ and teams’ statistics, along with standings for the season.