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Gill leads hosts over Guyana

JUSTIN MARVILLE, [email protected]

Gill leads hosts over Guyana

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Veteran national captain Jeremy Gill had 22 points, including five during a pivotal third-quarter stretch, to lead a Barbados men’s basketball trial squad to a 93-76 victory over Guyana in Friday’s opener of a three-game series at the Wildey Gym.

It was definitely a pleasant sight ahead of this month’s FIBA AmeriCup 2021 Caribbean Pre-Qualifier in Suriname considering the 34-year-old combo guard was hobbled with a calf injury for much of the season.

But he certainly looked right as rain while beating defenders off the dribble and forcing his way to the line en route to a perfect 12 of 12 showing from the charity stripe.

Gill was at his very best when Barbados needed him most, scoring five straight points to key a decisive 15-6 run to finish the third quarter.

Watching the hosts squander all but three of a 13-point lead (48-35), Gill promptly ended Guyana’s run with a deep three-pointer five feet beyond the arc before converting two free throws for a 57-49 advantage.

Saeed Norville then finished what his captain started, adding two free throws after scoring a pair of timely layups in an effective “small-ball” line-up that featured no traditional big men.

First, Norville cut free down the lane for an uncontested score before receiving a drop-off pass from veteran guard Zahir Motara along the baseline (69-58).

It capped a promising performance for the national team hopeful, who overcame some early jitters to throw his name in the hat for selection with a 12-point outing off the bench.

With Barbados struggling against a young and inexperienced Guyana side, the rangy Norville drilled successive triples as part of a bench unit that hit four in a row to turn a 9-10 deficit into a 23-15 cushion.

The lead grew to as many as 17 points (40-23) early in the second quarter when Gill and the other starters started to execute at both ends of the floor.

Seasoned forward Charles Vanderpool scored a short jumper and a lefty hook before Gill knocked down a triple and Keefe Birkett converted three straight free throws.

And they maintained that advantage on the other side of the break as Vanderpool found Junior Moore underneath with a sweet dime after throwing in yet another southpaw hook.

But opposing big man Moe Anthony threatened to take over thereafter, having scored a three-pointer before muscling Moore and Vanderpool on the offensive glass for a pair of layups inside.

Talented guards Stanton Rose and Travis Burnett then got in on the action by attacking the paint to pull Guyana all the way within three (52-49) midway through the third.

However, Bajan head coach Nigel Lloyd countered with a smaller line-up around Gill and Birkett featuring Norville and fellow reserves Darren Hunte and Jamar “Spanner” Headley.

The hosts closed the period on a 15-6 run before Anthony fouled out early in the fourth while reacting to a hard screen from Moore.

Rose followed soon after as the lead went back up to 17 on baskets from Gill and Birkett.

Vanderpool finished with 14 points and Birkett added ten while Anthony led Guyana with 19 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks.

Game 2 was scheduled for last night while the third game of the series is slated for today at8 p.m. at the same venue. (JM)