Coleby, Denizli win TBL Championship

They end the season on an impressive 15-game winning streak

After a grueling 30-game season in the Turkish Basketball League, Bahamian professional basketball player Dwight Coleby and his team, Merkezefendi Belediyesi Denizli Basket, can call themselves champions. They won their first TBL Championship on Saturday, winning convincingly, 102-73, in an away matchup against Global Connect Travel Duzce in Duzce, Turkey.

To put themselves in place to win the championship, Denizli used an impressive 15-game winning streak that spanned back from February 1 to finish the season with an overall win/loss record of 22-8. To take it a little further, since the calendar year rolled around, Coleby and his team only lost one game in 18 tries. Their only loss in the calendar year came in a 75-70 home loss to Global Connect on January 16.

As a reward for winning the title, Denizli will compete in the ING Basketball Super League during the 2021-2022 season. It’s the top men’s basketball league in Turkey.

Another Bahamian, Zane Knowles, and his team, Balikesir Büyükşehir Belediyespor, have a 16-13 record. Balikesir won their last game on Saturday – an 84-76 victory over Bornova Belediyespor at home in Balikesir, Turkey. They will play their final game today against Manisa Büyükşehir Belediye Spor in Manisa, Turkey, at 3 p.m. local time, 8 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) in The Bahamas.

Coleby played 12 minutes in the blowout victory and he finished with three points. He finished 1-for-5 from the field with one rebound, and went 1-for-2 from the charity stripe. His first point came from the free throw line at the 9:19 mark in the first quarter. The home team led 23-17 at the end of the first quarter.

At the 9:17 mark of the second quarter, Coleby made his only field goal of the game to cut into the home team’s lead, 23-19. Global Connect won the second quarter 24-21 to take a 47-38 lead at the half.

With the game looking like a repeat of the January 16 game, Denizli dug down deep in the third quarter to outscore the home team, 28-15. At the end of the quarter, Denizli led 66-62, on their way to their 15th straight victory.

A defensive fourth quarter helped Denizli hold their opponents to just 11 points. On the offensive side, they poured in 36 points in that quarter – two points less than what they had in their entire first half.

Hakan Yapar led the way for Denizli with 22 points in the game.

On the season, Coleby averaged 13.1 points per contest while also averaging 8.7 rebounds a contest. He averaged 0.6 blocks per contest.

In the game with Balikesir and Bornova Belediyespor, Knowles finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds. He went 5-for-9 from the field and 8-for-9 from the free throw line. He is averaging 14.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game to go with 0.7 blocks in 27 minutes per game.

Myles Anthony Mack led the way for Balikesir with 28 points.

Balikesir started off the game with a 19-15 lead at the end of the first quarter. However, a 19-13 advantage by Bornova in the second quarter gave them a 34-32 edge over Knowles and Balikesir at the half.

Bornova held on to a slim 57-56 lead at the end of the third quarter.

A fourth quarter offensive explosion enabled Balikesir to take the lead at the 9:20 mark and pull away for the victory. Two free throws by Mack put them up 58-57 in the final period. Knowles extended it on their next offensive possession with a basket to increase the lead to 60-57 with 8:51 remaining in the game.

At the 1:20 mark of the fourth quarter, Knowles sank two of his eight free throws to give his team an 82-74 lead. Bornova could not stage a comeback at that point as Balikesir held on for the win.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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