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Defenders going to finals

SportsDefenders going to finals

by Charles Gladden

BELIZE CITY, Mon. June 10, 2024

After sweeping the San Pedro Tiger Sharks two games in a best-of-three series in the semifinals, the Belize City Defenders secured their seats in the 2024 Belize Elite Basketball League (BEBL) finals.

The Defenders hosted game 2 at the Belize City Civic Center on Friday night, June 7, and took control of the game from the start, scoring 5 straight points; but the Tiger Sharks made their adjustments and evened out the score at 16 apiece at the end of the first quarter.

The Tiger Sharks then took the lead in the early portions of the second quarter (their only lead of the night with 5 points), but it soon evaporated, giving the home team a 33-29 lead to end the half.

In the second half, the Defenders pushed to a 13-point lead, their largest of the night, and even fought off a battling Tiger Sharks who made a comeback in an attempt to force a game 3. The Defenders won the game, 72-69, to clinch the series, 2-0.

After the game, this season’s MVP candidate, Nigel Jones, who netted 23 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, spoke to Amandala about returning to the finals since his first season in the league in 2018.

“I don’t think it has set in as yet, but this season has been personal for me, because that has always been the knot. Myself, as well as Defenders, we can’t finish games [and] we can’t close, so things like that. We wanted to prove to everybody that we were contenders, not pretenders; so, I feel like we’re here, and we showed what we could do; and now we just got to keep improving. I feel like we can handle our business in the finals,” he said.

The other top scorers for the Defenders were John Kelly, who contributed 18 points and 7 rebounds, D’von Campbell with 18 points and 7 assists, and Richard Smith III with a double-double of 10 points and 16 rebounds.

The Tiger Sharks were led by Jihad Wright, who produced a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Gene Myvett with 13 points.

The Defenders will have a chance to get their revenge against the Belize Hurricanes in the finals, since in 2018 the Hurricanes swept them two games to none in a best-of-three series.

“A lot of people remember that last time I made it to the finals with Defenders was when we played Hurricanes, [and] we were a little banged up going into the finals, and that is the same year they brought Devin Daly. So, for us this year, I feel like we’re [healthier]. We finally hit our stride about a month ago, and I feel like if we keep playing the way that we’re playing [and] everybody stays healthy, we can win this whole thing,” said Jones.

Finals will be in a best-of-five series format, with all games hosted at the Civic Center, beginning on Friday, June 21.

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