12 November 2007
SEYCHELLES : PLS Hawks crowned with blow-out win
IT was a blow-out and the Men’s division 1A title went to PLS Hawks as they wrestled the coveted crown from Premium Cobras’ grasps.
Against the Cobras, PLS Hawks’ coach Tony Juliette put together a plan that befuddled the PLS Hawks’ go-to-guy Omony drives past Premium Cobras Reuben Kolawoleoutgoing champions all evening in last Saturday’s title decider which started more than two hours behind the scheduled time of 4.30 p.m. This is because handball and earlier basketball matches had overlapped into each others’ scheduled times and also the organisers had to wait for a second referee as there was just one present at the Palais des Sports for the title decider.
The up-tempo play suited the Hawks fine in the blowout victory and Ugandan Stephen Omony was just marvellous as he literally killed the Cobras, handling most of his team’s scoring with a game-high 44 points - almost half of their score in the 97-70 win. PLS Hawks won the match fair and square. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it.
“I had to come out and take control by playing hard. Our performance is a reflection of how hard we have been training lately after going down. We got maximum contribution from all the players on both the offensive and defensive ends,” said 27-year-old Omony who has won a third league crown since joining the Hawks in 2002. The other two triumphs came in 2002 and 2005.
Ironically, it was the Cobras who got off to a quick start with playmaker Tony ‘Siro’ Moustache netting the game’s first four points, but when Omony equalised at 6-6 with 7 minutes 07 seconds (7:07) left in the first quarter, the Uganda international just did not get out of the groove. On the back of Omony’s 19 individual points including three 3-pointers in the first quarter, the Hawks, who put on a show of aggressive and fast flowing basketball, used a 20-6 run to distance themselves from their opponents at the end of the first 10 minutes of play (26-12).
It was one-way traffic again in the second quarter for PLS Hawks and Omony was just amazing to watch as all he did looked right and 95% of his attempted shots just dropped and he even got some friendly rebound.
When coach Juliette decided to give Omony some rest late in the second quarter, the Hawks’ lead had extended to 17 points and they went for the intermission, leading 45-28.
Unable to find a way back into the match as they had run into a formidable PLS Hawks team last Saturday, Premium Cobras took some more punishment and Seychelles international power forward Dominic Pillay just could not believe his eyes when Omony buried a baseline jumper right from under his nose early in the third quarter.
When Premium Cobras thought they had only Omony to try and put under control, playmaker Thomas Collie made them pay for their slack defence on him with eight consecutive points including two treys.
Again the Hawks, who even led by 26 points at one time – 69-43 – on an Omony lay-up with 1:11 left to play in the third quarter, knotted the third 10-minute spell 25-21, bringing the score to 71-49.
There was absolutely no way back for the Cobras even if they would have hoped for another self-destruct attitude by the Hawks. But this time, it did not happen although coach Juliette’s players committed some silly fouls.
Even though they lost the fourth quarter 20-21, PLS Hawks, who had pulled away down the stretch, celebrated a deserved victory and although there was no man-of-the-match award to be distributed on the night, Omony knew he would have won it as he was Hawks’ go-to-guy and he delivered to dethrone the Cobras.
Other than Omony, PLS Hawks had two more players scoring in double digits – playmaker Collie (11 points) and centre Neddy ‘Oye’ Fanchette (15 points).
For the Cobras who misfired all night, especially on the free-throw line, Tanzanian Abdallah ‘Dulla’ Ramadhan was their best scorer with 16 points but like his teammates he had a poor game in relation to his usually high-scoring and energetic style of play.
What they said:
Tony Juliette, PLS Hawks’ coach: “Our playing strategy worked almost perfectly today (Saturday) and my players heeded my advice when I sent them out on the court. Our defence stifled the Cobras offence and we got some easy options in attack and even brought down a lot of offensive rebounds.
We now have our eyes set on winning the SBF Cup to achieve a double. I have to thank all my players, members of management, fans for their contribution. And all those who for a reason whatsoever has left the team, you have also played a part in making the PLS Hawks team champions.”
Roy Collie, Premium Cobras’ team president: “We wanted to win the match, but we made too many turnovers. It was just not our day. I have to congratulate PLS Hawks on their league win and a special mention must go to Omony (Stephen). He killed us tonight (Saturday night). Now, we must concentrate on winning the SBF Cup. Also, I would like to point out that it is frustrating for players to wait for more than two hours to play a match. Some even thought that the game was to be postponed.”
Results of two SBF Cup matches played on Saturday:
HotShots beat RA Sisters 72-32 in game one of the best-of-three women’s semifinals
MBU Rockers beat Cascade Bullets 67-45 in a men’s quarterfinal match