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ON THE BALL: Warriors’ time to shine


JUSTIN MARVILLE

ON THE BALL: Warriors’ time to shine

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In this week’s edition of On The Ball, NATION basketball writer Justin Marville reviews last week’s round of games in the Co-operators General Insurance Premier League.

AND AFTER THE OPENING MONTH of top flight ball, your Premier League leaders are (insert drum roll here) . . . Hilton Barbados Warriors!

That’s right, Warriors. Not Pinelands. Not Station Hill. Definitely not Warrens. But Warriors.

Raise your hand if you saw this coming. No, not you, Wrinkles.

Well whether we want to believe it or not, up to last night’s games those oft-overlooked but ever-competitive men of Dayrells Road constitute the league’s lone “unbeatens” without a top flight star to speak of.

Sure, Corey McDonald was a legitimate MVP candidate about four seasons ago, but that’s when he had two functioning knees and a good Achilles tendon to explode off of.

And there’s really no one identifiable stat that truly defines their success either, just like how low turnover rates and high shooting percentage have come to characterise Lakers’ playoff runs.

But isn’t this what Frederick Bynoe always does, making the best of whatever he has to always put a winner on the floor?

This is in no way to suggest Warriors should be viewed as a ragtag unit, though, because a side with Tremaine Shaw, Kevin John, Daniel Durant, Nicholas King and Trevor Simmons will never be demotion bound.

Yet the run is surprising still, as it’s the most obscure of the lot, Ricardo “Aru” Toussaint, that’s been the engine behind the little train that could.

Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, though, with a quarter of the season barely in the books now, but I wouldn’t advise overlooking them either.

• Want proof of the usefulness of Station Hill’s small-ball line-up?

Then look no further than their rivalry game.

Boy was that one hell of a defensive performance against Keefe Birkett, making the league’s leading scorer work for each and every one of those 26 points in BCC’s shooting-friendly confines.

Yeah, the stats will show he shot a quite healthy 10 of 18 from the floor with three treys, but the national shooting guard also missed six of his last nine attempts while going scoreless from behind the arc in the decisive second half.

A lot of that had to do with the Cavs’ ability to successfully harass and chase the sharpshooter off the line by expertly trapping and switching pick and rolls with long-armed, fleet-footed guards.

Where other teams encounter problems with a big man being too slow to either hedge or switch effectively off the pic, Station Hill didn’t have such an issue considering they were using guards in forward positions.

Of course those same undersized Cavaliers couldn’t contain the 300-pound plus Sydney Rowe, and Birkett still had a good look at forcing overtime at the horn.

But hey, the stats will show they got the win right.

• They say if you have nothing good to say then say nothing at all.

So I guess that means no discussing Warrens this week. Or Cougars for that matter.

• I sure like Clapham’s youth movement a lot, and by extension the development that Rahiim Gibbons has made.

Yet I believe they may just be another reliable scorer short (hello, Ian Alexander) of truly contending for the title this year.

But with Alexander rumoured to be staying put in Laker land now, and Daniel Lovell all but lost for the season, that player is definitely going to have to come from within the ranks of this current roster.

At this point of their careers Shawn Gaskin and Kodia Leacock are who they are, so someone out of the group that includes Stefan Yard, Kelan Phillips and Sean Parris will have to hold up their hand for coach Barry Rock.

Of course it would help if all three managed to step up consistently because sooner or later they may be forced to when teams eventually get smart and load up on Gibbons.

• Speaking of Alexander, if the rumours are true that he is set to remain with Lakers, then home isn’t only where the heart is but also the head.

There’s just no other system that fits his talents better than Alexander’s hometown team, which finds ways to get the jump-shooting forward spot-up and pull up shots instead of forcing him to create his own offence off the dribble.

It isn’t a guarantee he can have similar production if Alexander were to take his talents elsewhere either.

And if the Laker forward needs any proof of that then all he needs is to take a short look down the highway at three former teammates.

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