16 September 2013
SEYCHELLES : National League: Hawks repeat as men’s champs
There was no champagne bath for the players to celebrate the win, but PLS Hawks brought champagne basketball to Victoria Gymnasium on Saturday as they marched over Beau Vallon Heat who could not move mountains for a fairytale finish.
The Hawks reached the century mark in a 100-60 win in the decisive match to claim a fifth consecutive league division one title, but before that Praslin Warriors put the icing on the cake as they powered past Anse Etoile 95-52 to win the league division two title and promotion to the top flight.
Beau Vallon Heat 60 ... PLS Hawks 100
What a pleasant way to end the men’s division one league campaign – champagne basketball played by the Hawks, with an appreciative crowd lapping it up in a party atmosphere as some spectators, including one sporting a blue wig, danced as drums and other instruments were being played.
Hawks were out on a mission: Stop Beau Vallon Heat from becoming the first team to win the championship title in only their first year in the top flight.
Last year’s second division winners Heat had been boasting all season long that they have been moving mountains and no one could say the least as they ended the first round of the championship unbeaten in eight games, but struggled in the second when they suffered three defeats before Saturday’s decider.
As for the Hawks, they had lost two games, including one against the Heat, in the first round, but had remained unbeaten in the second until Saturday’s encounter.
It all came down to one game – Saturday’s decider. A win for the Hawks would see them win the title with 30 points, but a win for the Heat would mean the two teams would finish the championship equal on points – 29 – and the Heat would win the title on the head-to-head rule.
The big crowd knew they were in for a treat when the Heat went head to head with the Hawks in the winner-takes-all game to determine the 2013 league champions.
In the end it did not turn out to be a thriller like most of the basketball lovers thought as the Hawks, whose centre Rodney Lozé was too much for the Heat defence with his game-leading 33-point performance, pummeled their opponents 100-60. Score by quarters: 22-8, 24-9, 28-15 and 26-28.
With a poor bench, and their outside and free-throw shooting not falling, the Heat, whose cheerleaders tried to keep up the spirit behind the team’s bench despite the big gap, had to accept defeat against a more experienced Hawks.
Speaking to Sports Nation, coach Guy Hall accepted that the Hawks were too strong for his team whom he said were 40 points from winning the championship in only their first season up with the big guns.
“Hawks overpowered us today (Saturday), but I’m proud with my team who fought for the first division championship title only one year after winning the second division crown. This is a real achievement, but in the end I feel the nerves got to the players in their first title decider at this level. We accept defeat and understand that we have to work harder next year to close the gap. We also need to beef up our bench,” said coach Hall who ran out of ammunition against the Hawks who were firing on all cylinders.
In his element on Saturday, centre Lozé, who scored his team’s 100th point and even gifted the Heat two points as the final seconds ticked away, said they had prepared for the decider.
“We were predicting a big win and knew we would win by a huge margin. It’s just amazing and now we will work on defending the SBF Cup and also on making a good impression at the Indian Ocean Club Championship tourney,” said Lozé who got help from Nigerian Alao Solomon with 20 points.
With their big men doing a good job in the paint, PLS Hawks claimed their fifth men’s division one league title in a row, bringing their tally to nine in 14 years since the introduction of clubs in 1993. They have previously won the title in 2001, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Despite not shooting well, Jean-Paul ‘JP’ Camille led the Heat in scoring with 18 points, while Christopher ‘Toto’ Camille (16) and centre Robert Léon (14) combined for 30 points.
Anse Etoile 52 … Praslin Warriors 95
Jackson Auguste was instrumental for Praslin Warriors, scoring a game-high 30 points in a 95-52 win that guaranteed them first place in the men’s second division league and promotion to the top flight next year.
“We are ready and looking forward to playing top flight basketball next season. Although it’s difficult for us to recruit players from Mahé, we will try our best to play hard,” said Auguste.
Captain J. Souffe added 19 points for the Warriors who won the championship ahead of Cascade Bullets who were counting on Anse Etoile to do them a favour.
Meanwhile, women’s champions Anse Etoile Stars finished the three-round league unbeaten and their ninth win came against Mont Fleuri on a 55-42 score on Saturday.