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Pinelands, Jackson in season finale

Justin Marville

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ALL SEASON LONG they waited for the respect that was their due.They waited for their overseas based players on the way to locking up the top spot.And even now that basketball’s Premier League leaders Lumber Company Lakers are in the play-offs, they’re still waiting.The post-season’s last berth comes down to the season’s last game, as Pinelands and British American Insurance Jackson face off in tonight’s dramatic regular season finale for the right to play the league leaders in this weekend’s first round of the play-offs.This season couldn’t have been scripted better than this – the culmination of 96 games where the final one is the most significant, starting 8 p.m. at the Gymnasium of the Garfield Sobers Complex, Wildey, St Michael.The “unpredictable” versus the “unlikely”. The “has-beens” against the “have-nots”. Win or go home!But what has become the dream scenario for hoops fans hasn’t necessarily been the ideal situation for the Pine, who would’ve clinched their post-season spot long ago were it not for successive losses to teams with losing records early in the second round.It couldn’t have come any other way for Pinelands though – not for a team that beats reigning champs Cavaliers one night only to lose against tenth-placed Tridents on the other.Jackson haven’t been as inconsistent as they have been surprising, finally utilising their collective talents to push towards what could become a first ever trip to the play-offs.The late acquisition of six-foot-ten centre Pearson Griffith has been no small measure in their success either, as the historic underachievers have at long last fulfilled the promise shown in successive, teasing late-season runs.Victories over past kings Lakers and Bulls prove that this year’s showing is anything but a fluke, and a win against a third former champ will duly announce their arrival as one of the league’s elite.