Nation e-Edition

Warrens turn to young blood

By Justin Marville | Tue, February 19, 2013 - 12:02 AM

The old guard appears to have made way for a new season.

The look of Warrens will be a very youthful one as Premier League basketball’s reigning champs prepare to open their title defence without several of their key veterans from last year’s championship-winning squad.

It’s the major storyline ahead of tonight’s rather low-key season opener against the schoolboys at the Wildey Gymnasium at 6:30 p.m. when Warrens will be without Finals MVP Peter Alleyne, along with veterans Pearson Griffith, Kevin Austin, Zahir Motara and Levar Greaves.

With each member of the experienced quintet all registered in the Third Division, the mantle has been left for newly-acquired point guard Akeem “Supa” Williams to lead a youthful outfit including talented swingmen Manuel Alleng and George Haynes.

At least they’ll be allowed an ease of sorts into their new leadership roles, with the already lowly schoolboys expected to return just five players with Premier League experience from a squad that went 1-17.

And major question marks surround the availability of their best player Aamir Morris, who is yet to register this season amidst injury concerns.

The night’s headliner at 8 o’clock will pit two historic but recently underachieving teams – Pinelands and Warriors – who will both try to put 2012 behind them.

Both missed the play-offs a year ago and are already starting behind the eight-ball following some high-profile departures including star swingmen Ramon Simmons (Pinelands) and Corey McDonald (Warriors).

But the absence of McDonald is doubly as hard for a team that will still be reeling from the suspensions of swingman Kareem Farrell and Shaw brothers Tremaine and Kirk.

Warriors will then be pressed into action again just four days later against a Clapham team rocked by the sudden resignation of Barry Rock, who coached the Bulls to the finals as recently as 2011.

And the fallout of his departure is already being felt, with starting point guard Rahiim Gibbons – Rock’s son – bolting for St John’s while star players Jeremy Gill, Halley Franklyn and Mark Foster have yet to commit to playing this season.

With Godfrey Leacock and Ricardo Jemmott set to make their hyped returns, Cougars will look to cap this season with a first ever play-off berth, starting with a great opening test on Saturday against former six-time champs Station Hill Cavaliers.

The real matchup of the opening round, though, will pit a retooled St John Sonics against losing finalists and perennial title contenders Lumber Company Lakers on Sunday.

Bolstered by the big offseason acquisitions of Simmons and Gibbons, Sonics start the season as the odds-on favourites to finally win it all, although no one will overlook a Lakers squad that has made six of the last seven finals and won three league cups in the process.

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