A trio of teams, one on Friday and the other two on Saturday, got off to good starts when they opened their best-of-five semi-final series in the New Providence Basketball Association (NPBA) playoffs at the A.F. Adderley Gymnasium.
On Friday night, the NPBA Division I defending champions the Commonwealth Bank Giants remained undefeated as they dominated the Breezes High Flyers 99-80 to take game one of that series. Game two will be played tonight.
On Saturday night, the Discount Distributors Rockets blew by the University of The Bahamas (UB) Mingoes 86-59 to take a 1-0 lead in that semi-final series.
In the early game that night, the Leno Eagles Nest stunned the Sun Oil Rockets, 86-78, to steal game one in their division two playoff series. Also, in division two action that night, the Asphalt Maintenance Pirates turned back the Sports Center Elites, 107-82, to advance to the semi-finals. The Pirates will play the Your Essential Store (YES) Giants in game one of their semi-final series at 7.30 p.m. tonight.
Rockets 86, Mingoes 59
The Rockets went to work on the glass and in the paint as they dominated down low en route to a blowout.
Livingston Munnings was tough for the Mingoes to stop on the glass as he grabbed a game-high 21 rebounds and scored a team-high 21 points in 25 minutes of play.
Head Coach for the Rockets Randy Colebrooke knows he has two of the best rebounders in the league in Munnings and Codario Pinder.
“We have some of the top big men in the league, Cody (Pinder) and LJ (Munnings) who lead the league in rebounds. It’s all about playing defense on that team – they are a very good team, they practice, and we have to play defense,” Colebrooke said.
As a team, the Rockets outrebounded the Mingoes 63-44. They also scored 66 points in the paint compared to the Mingoes’ 30.
Mingoes’ Head Coach Bacchus Rolle said he knows the Rockets have length, and he knew that would have caused a problem.
“They are definitely longer than we are,” Rolle said. “They are a lengthy team. We have to hit shots. When we hit shots we are difficult to defend but we didn’t hit the open shots and the confidence started to drop from there.”
Also picking up a double-double in the win for the Rockets was Danrad “Chicken” Knowles with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
“It was a collective effort. Defensively, we stuck together and we know we could score. All we had to do was play solid defense because that’s a university team,” Colebrooke said.
The Mingoes played it close for most of the first half with the Rockets going into the intermission up 36-29.
In the third quarter, Munnings connected on a jumper to give the Rockets their largest lead at that point, 56-38, with 1:33 remaining in that quarter.
The Rockets used a 50-30 scoring advantage in the second half to pull out the emphatic win.
Game two is set for Wednesday night and Colebrooke said it’s about defense, adding that they will have to go back to the drawing board.
Rolle said his players were not focused but they will make the necessary adjustments and be ready for game two.
Eagles Nest 86, Rockets 78
Eagles Nest rallied in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Rockets by 12, to come out victorious in the opening game of their division two playoff series.
Eagles Nest forced 38 turnovers and scored 41 points off those turnovers.
Donte Deveaux led Eagles Nest with a game-high 20 points.
Head Coach of Eagles Nest Sterling Pratt said his team came to play defense.
“We were strictly keen on playing positive defense and not cheating the defense. We played together as one because we remembered last season, we got kicked out so I told them that they know how it feels to lose and let’s experience how it feels to win. We went out there and played team basketball,” Pratt said.
Three other Eagles Nest players were in double figures in scoring – Jonaldo Joseph (16), Tyrell Butler (14) and Bradley Altidor (10).
Eagles Nest had 23 steals and the Rockets had 16 steals.
Head Coach of the Rockets Moses Johnson said his team needs to take care of the ball better.
“Seasoned guards cannot turn over the ball,” Johnson said. “Guys are not playing defense. We just mishandled the ball and turned it over. There is no excuse for that. I think we turned the ball over 38 times and that is atrocious. I told the guys that we can’t be in any game and turn the ball over 38 times.”
Leading the way for the Rockets was Collin Storr with 18 points. Four other players finished in double digits for the Rockets – Bertrum Minns (16), Lerecus Armbrister (13), Crosley Wilmore (12) and Cameron Chery (10).
The Rockets went up by 13 points in the third quarter, leading 60-47. Eagles Nest stormed back to end that quarter on a 9-0 scoring run as the quarter ended with the Rockets ahead 60-56.
Coming down to the end of the game, Pratt made gestures toward the Rockets’ bench, stating that there was a lot of chatter coming from the Rockets before the game started.
“I was saying that their mouth hard. They were on social media saying they were going to beat Leno Eagles Nest while I just stayed quiet. It doesn’t go by words. It goes by action on the court and we did that tonight (Saturday night),” Pratt said.
Johnson said his team had a long layoff and that worked against his team.
“I think the long layoff didn’t do us well and those guys would have played a hard fought series in the last series. I think that continuity really rolled over for them and these guys had a long break. It is going to take us a little bit of time to get back into the groove,” said Johnson.
Game two is set for Wednesday night and Pratt said his will back stronger and tougher for that game.
Johnson said that his team is upbeat and confidently said they will bounce back and win the next three games.