SAN IGNACIO, Cayo District, Sun. Feb. 17, 2019– Two games were played this past weekend, which saw the top 4 teams already jostling for playoff positioning and tie-breakers, as the competition starts to heat up in the NEBL, making every game more crucial than the other.
The mighty has fallen
Friday night saw the battle of the two city teams clashing for bragging rights, but more importantly, for a huge win in a very tight race for a playoff spot. The game was very close from tip-off, as Mirage Smart Belize Hurricanes was able to grab a marginal 18–17 lead at the end of the first quarter, which they gave up by intermission, with Belize City Defenders entering the second half with a 36–34 advantage. At the end of the third quarter, Hurricanes was able to grab back the 54–53 lead going into the fourth quarter, which has been the Achilles heel of the Defenders this season, giving up fourth-quarter leads in both of their losses. However, this time around it seemed personal, as their captain, Darwin “Puppy” Leslie took matters into his own hands, opening the quarter with back-to-back three pointers, and finishing the quarter with 13 huge points, including some clutch free throws down the stretch, which secured the 76–72 victory.
Defenders were led by Darwin Leslie who netted 17 points, while Nigel Jones tallied 12 points and 7 rebounds. Big men Farron Louriano and Elvis Olivera scored 11 and 10 points, respectively in the win. This was a huge win for the sub-champions, who were able to climb back to .500 with a 2–2 record.
Mirage Smart Belize Hurricanes was led by Devin Daly, who had the game high with 19 points, to go with 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals; while Belizean American Tyrie Orosco finished with 15 points and 6 caroms. Glency Lopez tallied 13 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists; and captain Akeem Watters finished with 12 points. The loss is now back-to-back for the defending champions, who also sits at .500 with a 2–2 record.
Griga sits alone at #1 spot
On Saturday night, San Pedro Tiger Sharks travelled down south to take on Griga Dream Ballers in a clash of the titans, as both teams were tied with the best record in the NEBL, where the winner would sit atop the standings alone. Griga jumped out early to a 45–33 lead at the half, and they were able to control the pace and tempo of the game, as the visiting squad was able to cut the lead to only 8 points, after which Griga Dream Ballers were able to bounce back to secure the 79–66 victory, after leading by 23 points in the third quarter.
With the win, Griga Dream Ballers now boast the best record in the league, and is atop the standings alone. They were led by Daniel Conorque, who had the game high with 21 points, to go with 14 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals; while American import, Delvon Henderson also finished with a double-double, netting 17 points and ripping 11 boards, to go with 4 blocked shots. Edgar Mitchell had 14 points, to go with the game high 11 dimes and 5 rebounds and 2 steals; while Jamal Kelly also tallied 14 points, 4 steals, 3 rebounds and 3 assists.
In a losing effort, big man Martevuius Adams finished the game with 16 points and 9 rebounds; while Kurt “Chengo” Burgess’ stat line included 11 points, 14 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists. Keith Pollard chipped in with 11 points and 3 assists, while Douglas Valley chipped in 10 points.
It is the first time in league history that San Pedro Tiger Sharks has lost 2 back-to-back games, which speaks volumes of their regular season dominance. Griga Dream Ballers is now riding a 4-game winning streak, with their only loss coming on opening night versus Hurricanes.
NEBL joins shoulders to support Belize National Team
The National Elite Basketball League (NEBL) invites its fans to come out and support the Belize National Team in their quest to advance to the FIBA Americas tournament. This year’s team features a cast of NEBL players and below is the schedule for the games.
Friday Night: 6:00 p.m. – Bahamas vs Cuba; 8:30 p.m. – Antigua vs Belize
Saturday Night: 6:00 p.m. – Bahamas vs Antigua; 8:30 p.m. – Cuba vs Belize
Sunday Night: 6:00 p.m. – Cuba vs Antigua; 8:30 p.m. – Bahamas vs Belize