Ovals Ojays and Northside Stingerz brush aside opponents in basketball’s top division

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By Neto Baptiste

Ovals Ojays and LJ Northside Stingers kept their unbeaten run in Division One of the Antigua and Barbuda Basketball Association (ABBA) alive on the weekend, both winning comfortably at the JSC basketball complex to stretch their streak to three straight.

Defending league and playoff champions, Ovals Ojays, made light work of Potters Steelers, handing them their first loss of the competition by an 86-67 margin.

Veteran Bryan “Hollywood” Matthew and overseas-based Joshua Minner led the charge for Ovals with 20 points each. Matthew also grabbed nine rebounds while Minner ended with five.

Matthew said his team entered the contest with very specific instructions on how to beat the then- undefeated Steelers squad.

“What we did this week was to scout them properly from the two games they won and so we just knew tendencies, what players were going to do and we strategised just for that game and I think that the game plan worked to perfection in a sense, because knowing them, they are an up-and-down team and all we wanted to do last night [Sunday] was dictate the pace. Once we dictated the pace everything else would have fallen in line and it did,” he said.

In a losing effort, Cohen DeSouza led Steelers’ scoring with 19 points and 12 rebounds while Kareem Edwards and Kebo Orford chipped in with 18 and 11 points each.

Meanwhile in Sunday’s opening game, Northside Stingerz made light work of Police Vertex to win by 12 points in their 82-70 triumph.

US-based player, James Barbee Jr., and national player, Vivian Destin, each had 18 points for Stingerz as they stayed unbeaten after three showings.

Coach Michael Freeland believes his team is in a much better position this year to make a run at the title.

“Last year, one of my biggest challenges was having that quality on the bench. Last year you would realise that we have maybe four players on the bench with a nine-player rotation and because you have so many nagging injuries it was very difficult to have a sustainable team on the court at all times. This year we have 12 guys on the roster and we still have another two who will be here later on,” he said.

There was encouragement for Vertex despite the loss with Javon Simon hitting a game-high of 19 points and grabbing nine rebound while Isaac Bragg picked up 17 points and eight rebounds.

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