SAN IGNACIO, CAYO, Sun. Feb. 15, 2015–The National Elite Basketball League (NEBL) saw record crowds in basketball arenas country wide, as fan support increased while basketball passion dripped off the faces of game attendees.
Belize Hurricanes (1-1) had their first home game on Friday night at the Belize Elementary Gym in Belize City, where they were able to record their first victory of the season, handily defeating Belize City No Limit (0-2) by the score of 86-62. Belize Hurricanes was led by newcomer Ty Bradley who made a splash in his first NEBL game, tallying a double-double, with 19 points and 10 caroms, while dishing out 3 assists. Rookie Tariq Middleton finished with 17 points, behind a 58% shooting night, with three 3 pointers. Brian White was also huge in the paint, with a double-double of 16 points and 14 rebounds; while Winston Pratt finished the night with 10 points and 3 assists. In a losing effort, Belize City No Limit was led by Brandon Rogers who scored 16 points and pulled 8 rebounds, and Lennox Bowman tallied 11 points and 5 boards. Gregory “Chippy” Rudon scored 8 points with 9 rebounds and 3 assists, as his team is only one of two teams to yet record a win in this season.
On Friday night, the fans out west witnessed the clash of two of the top teams in the league, given that these two teams met in the finals last season, as this rivalry and bad blood continued to brew, and was in full display at the Sacred Heart College Auditorium in San Ignacio Town. This game surely lived up to the hype and intensity, and from tip-off to the final buzzer, the game was an all out bump and grind, as the level of competition was fierce and adrenaline-saturated on the basketball court. The home team, Cayo Western Ballaz (2-0) jumped out to an early lead, but the San Pedro Tiger Sharks’ (1-1) tenacity surely did not let up, as both teams jostled for every edge, demonstrating a high level of talent, team chemistry and fundamental skills. With 2:13 remaining in the game, the home squad had a 10 point lead, until Ashton Edwards single-handedly took over the game and brought back the visitors, as he nailed three consecutive three point daggers in the heart of Cayo Western Ballaz, cutting the lead to 1 point, with a little under 1 minute remaining in the game.
However, veteran Keith “Superman” Acosta was able to seal the victory for the home team, as he sank clutch free throws down the stretch, while ripping key defensive boards. Cayo Western Ballaz was able to cling on to a 74-71 victory, being only 1 of 2 remaining undefeated teams in the league. Western Ballaz was led by Richard Troyer, who had 21 points with 7 rebounds, while Ivan Flowers had another solid game at the point guard position with 14 points and 2 steals. Kurt “Chengo” Burgess finished the night with 12 points and 6 boards, while Keith Acosta had 7 points and 10 rebounds, including 5 clutch free throws down the stretch to seal the win for Cayo Western Ballaz. In a losing effort, Ashton Edwards had the game high 22 points, with 6 three pointers and 6 rebounds; while foreign player, James Milton scored 18 points with 11 rebounds and 2 huge blocked shots, tallying his first double-double of the season. Andrew “Bynum” Ortiz provided a spark for the visiting team off the bench, finishing with 12 points and 5 rebounds.
On Saturday night, two games were hosted by the southern teams, as Dangriga Warriors (2-0) became the only other team along with Cayo Western Ballaz who are undefeated in this year’s season, by holding off the visiting Orange Walk Running Rebels (1-1) by the score of 76-65 at the Ecumenical College Gymnasium. Dangriga was led by Daniel “Buddy” Nolberto, who had the game high 28 points, while Trevaughn Usher chipped in 15 points, and Macario Augustine scored 8 points while ripping 13 rebounds. In a losing effort, Randy Usher was the top scorer for the visitors with 20 points and 4 assists; and Roger Reneau sank 18 points while grabbing 7 rebounds. The Dangriga Warriors and Cayo Western Ballaz are the only 2 undefeated teams remaining, after just 2 weeks of games.
Toledo Diplomats (0-2) hosted their first home game of the season at Julian Cho High School, where Belmopan Red Taigaz (1-1) was able to record their first victory of the season, easily defeating the home team, 95-76. Belmopan’s leading scorer was last year’s MVP, Farron Louriano, who had a bounce back game after last week’s dismal performance. Farron led his team with 27 points and 8 rebounds, while Stephen “Muerte” Williams scored 13 points with 7 boards, and Kevin Brown finished the night with 11 points, while point guard Terrell Eskridge dished out 7 assists. The home team, Toledo Diplomats was led by foreign point guard sensation, Michael Bables, who scored a tournament high 40 points, being the top scorer for both weeks of the season. Giovanni Arzu contributed 26 points and 6 rebounds for the home team. With the win, Belmopan Red Taigaz was able to bounce back from the season opener loss, while Toledo Diplomats and Belize City No Limit are the only two teams to yet record a victory in this year’s tournament.
This Thursday, undefeated Dangriga Warriors (2-0) will travel to the UB Gymnasium in Belmopan to take on Belmopan Red Taigaz (1-1) at 8:00 p.m., while on Saturday night the other 6 teams will square off at 8:00 p.m. around the country. Orange Walk Running Rebels (1-1) will travel to Belize City to play the Belize City No Limit (0-2), who will be seeking to register their first W of the season; while the undefeated Cayo Western Ballaz (2-0) will travel far south to take on Toledo Diplomats (0-2), who will also be trying to record their first win of the season. In the last game of the weekend, Belize Hurricanes (1-1) will be traveling to San Pedro to take on the defending champions, San Pedro Tiger Sharks (1-1), who are eager to take the court to get that bitter taste of defeat out of their mouths.
NEBL 2015 – Basketball at its best!