By Karim Juan, NEBL Commissioner
Sunday, March 9, 2020. Next weekend will tip-off the second half of the NEBL regular season as teams give a final push to be in the top four of the standings in order to secure a playoff spot. Belmopan Bandits, Punta Gorda Panthers and Griga Dream Ballers have only secured 1 victory so far so they must have an excellent second half of the season to make playoff contention a reality. Digi Belize City Defenders and Verdes both have only 1 loss while San Pedro Tiger Sharks and Benny’s Belize Hurricanes are trailing by only 1 game with 2 losses, while Orange Walk Running Rebels is 2 games back from the top spot with 3 losses. Team stats, player stats, upcoming schedule and standings can be found on our webpage at neblbelize.com
Hurricanes wrecked havoc on the Bandits Friday night
Between these lines- By Glenn Tillett
The Belmopan Bandits must be asking themselves as Paul Simon did in the song “You can call me Al”, why am I soft in the middle, now? It made their on-court life in tonight’s joust between the NEBL’s cellar dwellers so hard.
Their hosts, the Belize City Benny’s Hurricanes had no compassion and showed no sympathy in running away with a 104 – 60 victory tonight at the Belize City Centre in a game that never seemed in any doubt 5 minutes or so after the opening tip. The Canes scored the first 2 baskets and kept that four-point lead until Gregory Buckley started smashing the boards and Ashton Edwards heated up from distance.
In the second quarter Shuler Dominic took over from where Buckley had left off. One of the few players in the L capable of playing above the rim, he was dominant on the glass on both ends. His game high 18 rebounds, 8 offensive and 8 defensive, punishing paint patrols and swooping attempts at the rim proved too much for a Bandits krispy kreme interior that consistently failed to even block out.
On the other side of the ball they also consistently failed to set screens or run plays. The discordant jumble meant being outscored 35-6 in the second quarter and so it was a 55-20 laugher at the half. They were outscored in every quarter and outplayed in nearly every single aspect of the game.
The Hurricanes may have been boosted by the news that their horrendous crash in Griga last week may have been overturned on appeal. The Bandits have no redeeming news to look forward to and may have to begin planning for next season now.
Tonight’s victory on the court as well as a successful appeal off the court will vault the Canes from being tied for worst to playoff contention. The mountain they must climb to get there however, looms in the form of their league leading stadium mate Digi Defenders whom they host next Friday at the Civic by da Riva.
After a promising 1-1 start against Griga Dream Ballers and the Punta Gorda Panthers, the Belmopan Bandits have skidded to the cellar with 5 consecutive losses. They could right their listing ship and chart a course to a possible playoff spot, after all stranger things have happened but it is not likely. Their schedule of remaining games all point to extremely rough seas ahead.
In the pics, a triumphant Dominic Shuler and Jamell Harris were hailed as conquering heroes as they exited the game for good in the fourth quarter under the watchful eye of veteran coach-manager now ‘Canes consultant Marshall Nunez.
Down on the other bench Belmopan’s head coach tried to rally his dejected and disenchanted team. He must hope that losing does not become a habit.
Verdes defeats Griga Dream Ballers via protest
On Friday night Griga Dream Ballers hosted Verdes at the Russell Chiste Garcia Auditorium in the Cultural Capital. Griga won the game 86 – 73 but they had an ineligible player who participated in the game, giving Verdes the win. D’Von Campbell is an American who married a Belizean in May 2019. The commissioner ruled that given that his Belizean nationality application has been submitted and is in the process of being reviewed by the Immigration Department, he is considered a Belizean. However, last week Hurricanes appealed that decision and the Appeals Committee voted that D’Von Campbell cannot be considered a Belizean until he receives his Belizean nationality documents. As a result, the game played between Griga Dream Ballers and Benny’s Belize Hurricanes will be replayed with D’Von Campbell participating at a date that will be set by the league. After this ruling was issued, Griga Dream Ballers opted to play Campbell Friday night versus Verdes, and as a result Verdes has won the game because Griga used an ineligible player.
Running Rebels secures first road win of season in PG
On Saturday night, Orange Walk Running Rebels took a long trip down south to take on Punta Gorda Panthers at the Punta Gorda Sporting Complex. Running Rebels jumped out to an early 21 – 16 lead at the end of the first quarter, keeping the lead going into intermission, 43 – 39. The home squad was able to keep the game close, trailing by only 3 points early in the fourth quarter. However, Orange Walk Running Rebels was able to seal the 86 – 74 victory to give them a winning record 4 – 3 at the mid-way point of the season, which is the first for that franchise. It is also the first time that Orange Walk Running Rebels have won 4 games in a season. They were led by Dajuan Cooper who finished the night with 22 points and 11 rebounds while Sydney Bradley tallied 11 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists and Matthew Young posted 11 points and 9 rebounds. Roger Reneau chipped in 10 points to go with 5 assists and 4 rebounds and Tyrie Orosco netted 10 points and grabbed 8 rebounds and Leon Jacob scored 10 points. Punta Gorda Panthers was led by Travis Julien who had the game high with 23 points to go with 12 rebounds while Nayib Casimiro had his season high with 19 points and Jevonte Hughes tallied a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. With the loss Punta Gorda Panthers is on a 6-game losing skid.
Friday, March 13 at 8:45 p.m. – Belmopan Bandits vs. Verdes at Hilltop Basketball Court
Friday, March 13 at 9:15 p.m. – Benny’s Belize Hurricanes vs. Digi Belize City Defenders at Belize Civic Centre
Saturday, March 14 at 8:00 p.m. – Punta Gorda Panthers vs. Griga Dream Ballers at the Toledo Sporting Complex
Saturday, March 14 at 9:00 p.m. – Orange Walk Running Rebels vs. San Pedro Tiger Sharks at the Orange Walk Multi-Purpose Complex