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Warrens set up final with Lakers

Justin Marville

Warrens set up final with Lakers

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To a man, Warrens insisted they weren’t trying to avoid Lakers.
Good thing, because guess who’s up next?
The classic Lakers-Cavs finals has officially made way for Premier League basketball’s next best rivalry as Zahir Motara had 15 fourth quarter points to cap Warrens’ series win over Mpact Station Hill Cavaliers in Thursday’s 91-74 Game 3 blowout at the Wildey Gym.
It proved the fitting finish to a telling series comeback for Warrens, who bounced back from last week’s Game 1 heartbreak to book the first top flight finals appearance in the club’s history.
But if the stage will be unfamiliar, Warrens’ opponents certainly won’t.
The upcoming five-game finals is set to become the third straight postseason meeting between Lakers and Warrens, who lost both previous first-round series to the defending three-time champs.
And such was Lakers’ prior dominance that it was rumoured Warrens intentionally avoided another first-round meeting by defaulting their regular season finale to lock them into a favourable matchup with Station Hill.
“We’re playing for all the marbles now,” said Motara when asked the difference between meeting Lakers in the first round and finals.
Seems tough to argue against those tactics now.
The 17-point rout was the second straight lopsided result following Saturday’s similarly egregious 77-59 Game 2 blowout.
The Cavs’ collapse started with Station Hill surrendering the easiest of baskets – and runs – to George Farrell and Kevin Austin, who scored 15 second-quarter points between them as part of an 18-2 first-half finish that put Warrens up 38-22.
However, Warrens weren’t done just yet, carrying the lead to 22  in the ensuing third following another spurt from the Austin-Farrell combo.
The Cavs did muster somewhat of a fight, going to a small-ball four-guard line-up that forced turnovers and twice threatened briefly by going on separate 7-0 and 5-0 runs early in the fourth quarter.
But Station Hill never got any closer than 13 (82-69) despite Marlon Bascombe’s best efforts, as Motara merely knocked down one of his five triples every time Warrens successfully broke the press.
It was the much needed offensive explosion for a game that was wanting for one over the first 7:33 when both teams could merely muster 15 points between them.
Farrell and Austin quickly blew open the game thereafter against some atrocious transition and perimeter defence that too often left the pair free for wide open jumpers and easy fast break baskets.
Austin finished with 16 points and Farrell and Manuel Alleng each scored 15 while Peter Alleyne added 14 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Bascombe led all scorers with 25 points with 14 from Junior Moore and 11 apiece from Kevin Sealy and Steve Grenville. Game 1 of the finals is slated for 8 p.m. tonight at the Wildey Gym.