GABA Division III League
By Edison Jefford
Trinity Grid Holdings (TGH) Pacesetters opened their 2013 Season campaign in the Georgetown Amateur Basketball Association (GABA) Division III League, with a thrilling win Monday night against a surging Guyana Defence Force (GDF) on Burnham Court.
TGH Pacesetters won 40-37 after controlling the game for the first three quarters. Tactics and the defence of their big men, Calvin Harding and Dwight Gray, helped them survive a fourth quarter blitz from the soldiers, who struggled offensively early in the game.
Harding finished with 11 points while Tarique Cave had 10 points and Gray eight points for the pioneering Pacesetters under a new sponsorship arrangement. Phillip Earle led the scoring for the soldiers with 14 points and was the only player in double figures.
Pacesetters started with well-organised offence with an impressive young point guard, Ruel Ritch forcing the isolation plays for forwards, Harding, Gray and Cave, who did not hesitate to deliver the ‘facials’ in the paint where they manhandled the game.
Pacesetters took an early 8-2 lead in first quarter. Ironically, the defence force completely lacked defence in the first period, a trend that continued in the second quarter. However, a scoreless two minutes from Pacesetters, not owed to any defensive pressure at all, but rather turnovers, midway through the second period, allowed GDF to remain in the game.
But beastly performances from Harding and Gray in the paint got the offense going again when Pacesetters took a 17-14 lead at halftime. Guard, Ritch came alive in the second half, delivering the ball with precision to lead TGH Pacesetters to a 27-18 advantage with two minutes to play in the third quarter.
Then the 6’5″ Collis Mendonca gave GDF some momentum when he threw down a one-handed dunk in the lane. The quarter ended 30-21 in favour of Pacesetters, but GDF seemed to have it in them to play with more system, getting the ball inside to the lanky Mendonca.
They ran that play consistently and went on a 6-0 run with five minutes to play in regulation time before Earle scored eight straight points, including a vintage lay-up off the glass from a spin move to haul GDF to within two points (33-35) late in the fourth quarter.
The Defence Force outscored Pacesetters 14-5 in the last period. Jason Khan finished a move off the glass to ensure the game remain a one-point game, but then he threw away a key possession at the same end with 39 seconds left when he dribbled the ball out of bounds.
Pacesetters delivered from the free-throw line when Ritch, nicknamed ‘Rondo’ from the famous Boston Celtics guard, buried one of two shots to make it a two-point game. Earle finished a fade away jumper for GDF to equalise at 37 points apiece to make the game an interesting contest and underline the soldiers surge in the last period of regulation time.
However, Harding answered from the line with two crunch-time free-throws that delivered the fatal blow, giving Pacesetters a 39-37 points lead. The soldiers turned over the possession in the nine seconds they had to create a play, sending Pacesetters to the line again and signing the death certificate in the process in their first game of the GABA League.
West Side Jammers secured a walkover Pepsi Sonics that was a no-show for the second schedule game; the GABA Division III League continues tonight when the Alberttown-based Panthers take on Eagles at Burnham Basketball Court.