The battle for the Western Basketball Association Elite League title tips off today, Wednesday, July 24, with Game One of the best-of-three affair to be played at the Montego Bay Cricket Club beginning at 7 p.m.
Montego Bay Cricket Club Knights, appearing in back-to-back finals, and Falmouth Saints are the teams that will challenge each other for the crown and the right to be called champions.
Saints punched their ticket with a 2-0 series sweep of former many-times champions Granville Jaguars, one game by default, while the Knights were forced to rally to see off the fierce and determined challenge of Boys’ Club Warriors by a 2-1 score-line.
Knights, after falling behind in the first game, won back-to-back matches to complete the comeback, the last win coming on Saturday, 75-63, at the same venue on Saturday (July 20).
The Jhuan Bryan-captained Knights teamagain survived a third quarter capitulation to pull off the 12-point series-claiming victory.
Plucky Warriors, making the semis in their first season of the League, pressed their opponents all the way in the contest and managed to unsettle them enough to have taken the victory, but for selfishness, missed plays, poor ball handling and rash decision-making in the shooting third.
With some easy lay-ups, Knights took a 15-10 lead after the first quarter, with Bryan and Antonio Spence accounting for five each, with Spence additionally going 0-6 at the line.
The team upped the scoring in the second quarter, taking it 21-17, establishing a 36-27 advantage at the break.
However, as is customary, Knights allowed their opponents, Warriors, a foothold back into the game and they, with some sharp shooting, pulled to within four of a wobbling Knights, 45-49, going into the final quarter.
Knights, helped by a better showing at the free throw line which saw them connecting on 15 of their 20 tries, roared back in familiarfashion, exploding for a game-high 26 points in the final quarter to pull off the triumph ahead of a charging Warriors, who never showed signs of giving up.
The left-handed Antonio Spence and Bryan led the shooting for the Knights and came up with big plays down the stretch, ending with 14 points each.
Spence also had 18 rebounds, 4 steals and 4 blocked shots, while Bryan snatched 8 boards to go with three steals.
Rayan Gardiner, who brought stability to the team and distributed the ball well down the stretch, supported with 12 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals, with Jamoi Richards adding another 13.
OshaneMothersill hauled down 13 rebounds to go with his 7 points.
For Warriors, the eccentric and never-tiring Levar Rose and Tafari Vassell, who played every minute of the encounter, scored a game-high 24 and 15 points respectively, with Vassell grabbing 11 rebounds.
Rhyheem Barrett, also with a double-double, 12 points and 12 rebounds, also gave support, but no other player managed to get into double figures.