A second half blitz combined with dogged defending propelled Colts to their inaugural Guyana Amateur Basketball Federation (GABF) Road to Mecca Championship, dismissing Retrieve Raiders 75-55 on Saturday at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall.
Unlike the original final, it was an incident free contest officiated by three International Basketball Federation (FIBA) officials, two of whom were Barbadians.
Trailing 29-32 heading into the halftime interval, the Georgetown outfit initiated the comeback in the pivotal third period as they netted 21 points while restricting Raiders to a meagre five points to lead 50-37 heading into the final stanza.
It was clinical showing on the part of Colts with their stifling defensive plan and aided by poor shot selection from the Lindeners. The blitz commenced with a 17-0 run which gave Colts a commanding 46-32 advantage with 2:20s remaining in the clock.
Such was the dominance of the Colts defence in the third period that Raiders recorded their first points through a Keon Cameron three pointer with 1:15s remaining in the quarter with the only other conversion coming from of Jason Alonzo 15 seconds later.
For Colts, Shelroy Thomas led the rout with 10 points in the period while Stanton Rose, Shane Webster and Kurt English assisted with five, four and two points each. The momentum of the third period continued in the fourth quarter as Colts started with an 11-3 run with 6:53s remaining on the clock to extend their advantage to 61-40, which was the largest lead at the time.
Once again, Thomas was the catalyst for the early blitz with five points along with three points from Webster. Raiders then commenced a cameo of their own as they went on an 8-0 run with 5:12s remaining highlighted by a three pointer and a three-point play from Neil Marks and Abdulla Hamid respectively, in the process cutting the deficit to 61-48.
However, that was the closest they managed to stage a comeback as Colts sealed the title, outscoring their foe 14-7 with Thomas and Delon LaRose registering six and four points correspondingly. Overall, Thomas recorded a game-high 25 points while English and Webster netted 12 and 11 points apiece. Assisting with a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds was Rose. On the other side, Alonzo top scored with 11 points while Cameron, Dwayne Roberts and Marks chipped in with 10, nine and eight points each.
With the win, Colts secured $500,000 and the championship trophy while the runners-up pocketed $250,000 and the corresponding accolade. All the team and individual presentations will occur on April 30.
Prior to the second half assault, Colts started the contest favourably as they outscored Raiders 15-8 at the conclusion of the first period. The momentum shifted in the second quarter as Raiders imposed their superior size, netting 24 points to Colts 14 points to enter the half time interval ahead at 32-29.
Raiders seized the lead for the first time at 21-17 compliments of a 9-2 run with less than four minutes remaining led by six points from Omally Sampson. The Georgetown unit retook the lead at 23-21 through a 6-0 run of their own as English netted four points. However, Raiders closed out the period on the ascendency to seize the advantage going into the half time interval, outscoring Colts by an 11-6 margin. Meanwhile in the earlier fixture, Pepsi Sonics defeated Plaisance Guardians in an exhibition encounter.
The original final on March 19th between the two sides was abandoned after Raiders walked off the court in the fourth quarter protesting the officiating.
At the time of the stoppage Colts led 54-51 with 9:18s remaining on the clock. Raiders eventually returned to the playing area 20 minutes later following discussions with the GABF President Nigel Hinds.
Subsequently footage of the fouls which led to the incident were reviewed by federation boss, the officials and the Raiders captain. It was eventually deemed that mistakes were made by the official. However the match did not resume after Colts opted to exit the arena, citing that the actions of their foe could not be condoned.