Enough about the Jackson rivalry already.
Lakers are over that – and any doubts of reaching yet another Premier League basketball finals.
Keefe Birkett and Ian Alexander accounted for all but two points of a decisive 21-7 second-half run to cap the Lumber Company Lakers’ stunning series comeback over British American Insurance Jackson in Sunday’s 80-71 Game 3 close-out victory at the Barbados Community College.
The anticipated rematch of last season’s first round proved just that – a mere repeat of Lakers’ 2010 series win that catapulted the Husbands side to the championship round.
It’s the fifth finals appearance in six seasons for Lakers, who set up a repeat of the 2006 title series after Bulls completed a 2-1 series win over Warriors.
Lakers’ berth appeared dodgy at best though, with the former two-time champs not only surrendering Game 1, but the first six points of Game 3’s second half and possibly the series’ momentum.
But whatever impetus, and lead Jackson held (53-50) disappeared just seconds later as Birkett and Alexander took the series by the horns, hitting one tough shot after another.
It was almost as if the two were trying to go one up on the other in an organized game of “horse”, with Birkett starting the rally with a contested long jumper before Alexander followed suit from beyond the arc.
Birkett wasn’t to be outdone though, hitting a trey of his own after scoring on a tough runner, only for Alexander to cap a run of seven unanswered points with a huge one-handed slam in transition.
If that wasn’t enough, Birkett went one better on a rare four-point play, getting a phantom call on a made three-pointer to put Lakers ahead 64-55 right before the third quarter buzzer.
And the two weren’t done yet.
Andre Boadu briefly ended their run of 16 straight points to start the fourth until Alexander hit another trey prior to Birkett’s arching floater that stretched Jackson’s deficit to 14 (71-57).
Reserve guard Gavin Robinson engineered a brief rally with a trey and successive free throws before Pearson Griffith added a short hook to pull Jackson within seven (73-66) with 1:44 remaining.
However, Alexander proved the proverbial thorn in their side, sinking another triple to reopen Lakers’ double-digit advantage while Javid Beckles and Peter Alleyne missed quick fire shots which would have put Jackson back in it.
Birkett led all scorers with 22 points and Alexander finished with 19, while Ricardo Jemmott added 14 points and 16 rebounds and Andre Lockhart scored 12. Alleyne had 20 points for Jackson, Beckles netted 14 while Griffith and Kevin Austin scored 11 points apiece.
Young centre Sean Parris continued his inspiring postseason play by engineering a game-winning 12-2 third-quarter run before Act II Clapham Bulls survived a late-game rally for a series-clinching 63-57 Game 3 victory over First Works Warriors.
The talented six-foot-seven big man had six points in the run, including a short jump hook and a two-handed throw-down, transforming a 35-30 cushion into a 47-32 rout as Bulls tried to establish Parris each time down.
But Clapham lost the script while making ill-advised subs, allowing Warriors to score nine unanswered points to end the quarter behind David Smith.
However, Warriors never got any closer than five (49-44) as Jeremy Gill threw down Tremaine Shaw on an assist to Halley Franklyn before up-faking Jamar Headley on his way to the charity stripe (59-49).
Gill had a team-high 15 points, Rahiim Gibbons added 14 and Parris scored 12 while Smith led Warriors with a game-high 16 points.
The best-of-five finals are slated to start tonight at the Wildey Gym at 7:30 p.m.