‘Experience’ Led Ovals To Championship

F&G Ovals Ojays claimed the league title after a six-point victory over rivals Corner Store Flyers on Sunday evening at JSC. (Photo by Thaddeus Price)
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ST JOHN’S, Antigua – National and F&G Ovals Ojays player, Brian “Hollywood” Matthew, has credited his team’s championship six-point victory over rivals Corner Store Flyers in Division One of the Antigua & Barbuda Basketball Association (ABB) competition, to having a solid game plan and an experienced crop of players to ensure its effectiveness.

Ovals edged Flyers, 96-90, in their anticipated showdown at JSC Sports Complex on Sunday night, handing the previously undefeated squad their first loss of the season.

Both teams finished league play with a 9-1 win/loss record, forcing the association to resort to head-to-head statistics that saw Ovals lifting the championship trophy.

According to Matthew who had only 11 points and pulled 15 rebounds, his teammates stepped up and brought home the victory.

“We made a run in the third quarter because at the half we were only leading by one point and I think we went on a 12-4 run in the third quarter that the Flyers outfit didn’t answer and we took that impetus into the fourth quarter and we maintained,” he said.

“I knew going into this game that coach George would have implemented a game-plan that was geared towards me in a sense. So what I had to do was structure my game and play a game where I took what they gave me and help facilitate my other teammates and hopefully when I help them and facilitate them that they will come through for me, and they did in a big way on Sunday night,” he added.

The professional player, who also had five assists and five steals, said his players were motivated by the fact they went into the contest as underdogs with Flyers being the only undefeated team in the competition.

“I really have to give exceptional kudos to my team, Oval Ojays, in the way they handled the situation. They played really free with no pressure and just with being in an underdog position as I said before, coming from the second division last year, winning out convincingly and setting a set of goals this year to win up in that division that we went into and won convincingly too,” Matthew said.

“We had that little blemish with Yorks Crushers and what that did was send us back to the drawing board and get us grounded again because we have been winning for a while and we knew that it wasn’t going to always be an easy walkover. So it was a reality check. We got it right and we bounced back well last night, I must say.”

The Ovals leader said following a few days off, his team would seek to regroup and focus on the upcoming play-off competition as they seek to make it two in a row.

“We are going to go back to the drawing board again. We know it’s a different season now because basketball season is actually two seasons in one and we are going back to the drawing board, back to the cage, get our game together, get sharp again and get ready for the play-offs and whosoever our first round opponent is,” he said.

Veteran Marlon “Buju” Charles led the way for Ovals with 29 points, 10 rebounds and five steals, while Kevin Francis picked up 26 points and grabbed seven boards.

In a losing effort, Lennox “Termite” McCoy hit a game-high of 34 points. He also picked up eight rebounds, three assists and five steals, while Keori Lee sank 16 points and grabbed 21 rebounds.

In Sunday’s opening contest, Baldwin Braves defeated Big Banana Express, 93-82.

Vivian Destin picked up 36 points and had 15 rebounds for the victors, while Damian Floyd had 21 points. For Express, Lindsay McDonald had 29 points and pulled 10 rebounds, while George Francis had 14 points and Kareem Blaire sank 12 points also for Express.

The basketball association play-off competition is expected to tip-off next week.  

 

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