Pitbulls make successful defence of three-on-three title

Ryan Stephney produced a Most Valuable Player-like showing as Pitbulls successfully defended its Mackeson 3×3 basketball title, defeating arch-rivals Pacesetters-A 17-15 in the national finale at the East Ruimveldt Court on Friday.

With the scores locked 14-14 and both sides over the allotted foul limit, Stephney would be the catalyst for a game clinching 3-1 run in the final seconds of the fixture.

Sent to the free-throw line to shoot two attempts after Pacesetters-A had earlier accumulated their 10th foul of the matchup, Stephney would clinically net both shots to the accompaniment of loud screams from the opposing viewership to give his side a 16-14 lead.

Maintaining possession of the ball due to Pacesetters-A 10th infringement, the diminutive Stephney would then put the game beyond the reach of his adversaries with a silky layup after dribbling his marker to finish the fixture with 11 points.

In earlier moments of the matchup, Pacesetters-A raced off to a 7-3 lead through the combination of Travis Burnette and Royston Siland who constantly attacked the rim, putting Pitbulls in early foul trouble.

Defending champions Pitbulls celebrating with fans following their hard fought win over Pacesetters-A in the Mackeson 3x3 Basketball finale.
Defending champions Pitbulls celebrating with fans following their hard fought win over Pacesetters-A in the Mackeson 3×3 Basketball finale.

The momentum of the match would change with 5:40s left on the clock as Pacesetters-A accumulated their seventh foul. Stephney would then take advantage of their opponent’s hesitancy to get physical, leading his side on a 9-3 run inclusive of a critical two-point play from a layup as they took the lead at 12-10 with 3:14s left to play.

Burnette would then tie the matchup seconds later at 13-13 as he netted two free-throws following Pitbulls’ seventh foul. The defending champs would then fail to capitalize on a chance to go ahead at 1:42s as Akeem `The Dream’Kanhai missed two free-throws with scores locked on 14-14.

However the cream always rises to the top as Stephney made up for the earlier miss of his team-mate, driving his side to a 3-1 final run to seal their second consecutive championship.

Due to the win, Pitbulls walked away with the championship trophy and $500,000 while Pacesetters will pocket $300,000 and the runners-up accolade. Each zone winner will also receive $25,000 respectively.

In the earlier matchup, Pitbulls clinched their berth to the finale after overcoming Colts-A by a 15-10 score line in the group-B finale.

Leading 9-5 with 4:04 left on the clock of the 10 minute encounter, Pitbulls would see their lead reduced as Dave Causeway netted two free-throws following the eventual winners accumulating their seventh foul. However, that would be the closest they would get to overcoming the champs as Stephney once more piloted a late offensive run, netting two free-throws and a layup in the final minute as they outscored their adversaries 6-3 to close out the matchup.

Pacesetters-A had earlier crushed TRS Raptors in the group-A finale by a 14-5 score line to earn their final’s place.

Keenly contested at the half way stage with the scores 5-3 in favour of Pacesetters-A, the eventual runners-up would put some daylight between themselves and the opposition closing out the game with a 9-2 run.

Ball movement followed by interior penetration highlighted the second half rout as Burnette led the assault with nine points through four layups, four free-throws and a mid-range jump shot.

In the other matchups, Pitbulls overcame a Nikkoloi Smith shooting offensive to defeat Colts-B 10-9 while crushing Linden unit Jets 10-2 in their opening fixture. Pacesetters-A also maintained a perfect record until their loss in the final, defeating Royals 10-9 and Den Amstel 12-2.

The third matchup of the night saw TRS Raptors crushing Den Amstel 11-1 while Colts-A hammered Jets 16-6 in the eighth fixture. Colts-A would then edge team mates Colts-B 9-7 in the fourth showdown while TRS Raptors made light work of the disappointing Royals 16-1.


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