It took four very physical and close games as the Olivia’s Guest House Cybots were able to close out the Gladstone Road Liquors Panthers, 67-66, to win the Bahamas Government Departmental Basketball Association (BGDBA) Championship at the A.F. Adderley Gymnasium on Saturday night. They prevailed three games to one, and won the title for a third straight year.
Leading the way for the Cybots was Ernest Saunders with 18 points, five assists and four steals. Cordario Pinder chipped in with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
The Cybots had to overcome a monster game from Panthers’ big man Salathiel Dean. He finished the game with a double-double, scoring 18 points and pulling down 20 rebounds to go with three swatted shots.
An excited Wayde Watson, head coach of the Cybots, said: “I am going to be honest with you; they didn’t want us to win this championship. It was obvious they didn’t want us to win this championship. The reality is, at the end of the day, we had the resolve to do it, we did what we needed to do, and we pull it out. Hats off to the Panthers, they’re a very good team. Those guys are very hungry, and they want to win, but, right now, we’re on the top of the mountain. This is three in a row, we on the top of the mountain, and that’s what we want to do, we want to stay on the top of the mountain.”
Darshtyn Baker was the Friday night hero with a big shot for the Cybots. He hit the game-winner and they won, 70-69, to go up two games to one in the series. He said his team came out sluggish on Saturday night, but they still won. Baker finished with six points on Saturday night.
“It was a rough game tonight. We were a little sluggish. We came out lethargic, but we regrouped. We went into the half and we regrouped. We fought, we fought, and we came back,” Baker said.
Halfway through the first quarter, it looked like the Panthers were about to take control of the game, going up 17-10 on a three-pointer from Cordero Coakley. They ended the first quarter ahead 23-16.
At the beginning of the second quarter, the Cybots came to life. With the score at 25-16, the Cybots scored seven unanswered points to pull to within two points, 25-23.
The game evened out heading into the half, and both teams were deadlocked at 29 at the half.
With the Cybots looking to seize their third straight championship and the Panthers looking to stop it, both teams were in a battle to stop each other the rest of the way.
The teams were deadlocked 38 midway through the third quarter after Adorn Charlow made a lay-up for the Panthers.
Cybots’ Brian Bain ignited a mini 9-2 run for his team that put them ahead 47-40. Saunders completed an and-one play with 1:46 remaining to cap that run.
Dean helped the Panthers end the third quarter on a 6-0 run, pulling them to within 47-46 at the end of three.
It was back and forth for the fourth quarter as both teams tried to outscore each other.
Bain hit a key three-pointer from the left side to put his team ahead 56-52 with 6:46 remaining.
However, a pair of free shots from Dean gave the Panthers a 62-61 lead with 2:33 remaining.
It was a tight game with the Cybots up 65-64 and 1:22 remaining. Baker fouled Cordero Coakley on a three-point attempt to put Coakley on the free-throw line with 27 seconds remaining. Coakley hit two out of three free shots to put his team up 66-65.
The Cybots needed a savior to avoid playing a decisive game five, and that savior was Pinder as he made a lay-up in what turned out to be the game-winning shot.
The Panthers had one last chance but Baker stole the ball and time ran off the clock.
Watson took time out to send regards and well-wishes to the people of Abaco and Grand Bahama who were affected by the passing of Hurricane Dorian earlier this month.
“We are fortunate. We are here in Nassau playing a championship basketball game and people in Abaco and Grand Bahama are suffering and some folks have died. We just want to give thanks to the Almighty God for giving us the talent and ability to come here and play basketball,” Wade said.
Baker said a three-peat is very difficult because guys could get complacent after winning a second consecutive championship.
“Doing a three-peat is very hard because after the second one, guys relax, and the other team, they get hungry like what you saw tonight. Every night you’re going to get the next team’s best shot because they want to knock you off as a champion. To be a champion, you have to be able to withstand adversity and that’s what we did all season. We took everyone’s best shot and we were able to come out on top,” Baker said.
Wade thanked Olivia’s Guest House, the team’s sponsor, his players and their families, for making the sacrifice during the summer to win another championship. A total of 11 players suited up for him in Saturday night’s game.
All four games were decided in the fourth quarter. The Panthers won the first game and the Cybots dug deep in the other three to win.