26 October 2006

SEYCHELLES : New champs Baya, Stars and Jazz crowned

DID Premium Cobras forget that Baya had beaten them in the group match of the Top-of-the-table tournament or did they play their final when they beat PLS Hawks in the semifinal over-time win? Or even better, have Baya themselves matured as a team under coach Michel Malbrook?

It is up to his players to prove this after Baya beat Premium Cobras 80-76 in the Men’s division 1A final on Saturday October 21 at the Palais des Sports. Baya deserve their victory, just like Anse Etoile Stars who were a par above Mont Fleuri whom they scorched 85-34 to succeed Bel Air as Women’s champions and LMS Jazz who edged Juniors 64-62 in the Men’s division 1A/2 final.

Baya, Cobras’ bogey team

With a starting five of left-handed playmaker Bernard Cherry, Michael Cupidon, Giovanni Laval, captain Dave Roseline and Robert Léon, Baya brought the game to Premium Cobras early on and they played on a par with the League champions who won the opening quarter 14-12.

After Andy Lespoir gave Baya a two-point lead at 18-16 with 2 minutes 34 seconds (2:34) played in the second quarter, Premium Cobras went dry for 4:14 and Baya used a 19-4 run to outscore them 25-6 in the second 10-minute spell and go for the break with a healthy 17-point advantage (37-20).

On a Roseline steal which he turned into a basket on a lay-up, Baya led 41-20 with just over a minute played in the third quarter, but then it was the turn of Tanzanian Abdallah ‘Dulla’ Ramadhan, who had remained silent in the first half, to take the game in his hands. He netted 15 of his team-high 23 points in the third frame, cutting Baya’s lead to 11 points – 55-44 – at the start of the fourth and final quarter.

Even though coach Malbrook told his players during a time-out that it was not the time to get disorganised, on the court everything Baya had built in the first 30 minutes looked like going up in flames and their hope of handing Premium Cobras a first defeat in four final showdowns between the two teams looked slim.

Despite missing skipper James Beier, their go-to-guy in the semifinal win against PLS Hawks, Premium Cobras sent shivers down Baya’s back when Nigerian power forward Reuben Kolawole’s lay-up dropped with 2:38 played in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to one points – 57-56.

The game then developed into a cat-and-mouse affair, but Baya, although losing Michael Cupidon with five personal fouls, made sure they did not lose the lead at any time in the match as it could have proved costly.

With both teams over the foul limit, the game was to be won or lost on the foul line but Baya kept their cool to hit their free-throws and despite losing the final quarter 25-32, they won the match 80-76, avenging their 67-100 loss in last year’s final.

The players and supporters celebrated the team’s first ever win over Premium Cobras in a final after having lost the previous three, but more interestingly, Baya proved that they are the League champions’ bogey team with their second win against them in less than two weeks. Baya also lead 3-2 against Premium Cobras in the head-to-head record this season.

Centre Léon was the game’s top scorer with 26 points and he was helped in offence by Cupidon (16 points) and Roseline (13 points). As for Premium Cobras, other than ‘Dulla’, Kolawole (14 points) and Leny ‘Bad’ Aglaé (13 points) also scored in double figures.

Stars too strong for Mont Fleuri

Missing veteran Williana Dubois, who ironically brings a lot of speed and much-needed confidence to their game, Mont Fleuri had no one to push them to the limit as Anse Etoile Stars dominated the paint and ran their defence rugged. The 34-85 defeat was surely too much for skipper Tracey Moustache and her teammates to stomach, but they know that the Stars were much better than them on Saturday.

The Stars won the first two quarters 22-6 and 20-6 only for Mont Fleuri to fight back and edge them 17-16 in the third quarter.

With coach Malbrook asking his players to go for every ball and play a full-court press, Mont Fleuri were trapped in their own half and they turned the ball over, thus giving the Stars the opportunity to add to their tally. In fact, League champions Stars won the fourth quarter 27-5 and the mach 85-34.

Former Sportslady of the Year Simone Asba showed that she remains deadly beyond 3-point range, hitting six treys for 18 of her game-leading 30 points. Magdeline Julienne added 19 points and skipper Simone Malbrook 17.

Bernadette Songor was the only Mont Fleurian in double figures with 13 points.

LMS Jazz’s comeback win

LMS Jazz left it late against Men’s division two champions Juniors in a 64-62 victory and player/coach Allain Estro told Sports Nation that the win will “boost our morale for our decisive play-off encounter against Beau Vallon Heat.”

Runners-up in the Men’s division two league, LMS Jazz were on paper the weakest team among the four who participated in the Men’s division 1A/2 tournament, but they played their cards well against their soit disant tougher opponents.

Juniors led 32-20 at half-time but their advantage was trimmed to six points – 49-43 – at the end of the third quarter. Ten (10) consecutive points, including two treys, by Joel Barra with under four minutes left on the clock, gave LMS Jazz the lead at 60-59 and Hubert Suzette banked an important baseline jumper with 43 seconds remaining.

Juniors still had a chance to rescue the game but they hurried their shots, losing 62-64.
Barra was the game’s top scorer with 25 points, while Darrel Vidot and John Philoé added 16 and 15 apiece in Jazz’s win.

Kenny Magnan top-scored for Juniors with 20 points and Abdel Sylla added 18 including four slams.

What they said:

Allain Estro – LMS Jazz’s player/coach: “Juniors’ Abdel Sylla caused us a lot of problems in the first half and when we double-teamed him, he was quiet and we were able to get back into the match with an aggressive man-to-man press.”

Simone Malbrook – Anse Etoile Stars’ captain: “We expected a tougher match from Mont Fleuri but today they were just not the same team who used to play tough against us like in the other match-ups.”

Michel Malbrook – Baya’s coach: “I’m happy with the win. I never lost faith in my players even though Premium Cobras came back strongly in the second half. They persevered even though they were tired and they have now reaped the reward.”

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?