Between these lines …
by Glenn Tillett
For the Orange Walk Running Rebels Isaiah Thomas, passing is no passing fancy and no doubt he wishes his teammates were a bit more aware. US sportswriters claim that LeBron James’ teammates are warned that if they aren’t alert, they may get hit in the face or head with his passes and I’d bet Thomas understands that.
His no-look passes are so deceptively good that even his targeted teammates are sometimes startled by them and so they tend to fumble them and even at times lose them.
Turnovers, poor free-throw shooting, a lack of composure and coordination at key points, and quickly putting their opponents into the bonus due to fouls in the first quarter all but killed their chances of defeating a wounded but very game league-leading Belize City Digi Defenders here tonight at the Civic by the Riva.
The Defenders were without their ball-hawking defensive standout Ty Bradley who was serving the first game of a 6 game suspension levied for throwing a punch at San Pedro Tiger Sharks Martevuius Adams in last Friday night’s game, as well as fellow guard Shaquille Crawford who was injured following a hard fall in the same encounter.
The Rebels scored the first points of the game and led 5 -2 after a few minutes of play. They then proceeded to turn the ball over 9 times, commit 7 fouls and miss 6 of 7 free throws to fall behind 31-22 by the end of the quarter, and in a hole they could never quite climb out of for the rest of the game.
At the end, they would fall 101-84 having turned the ball over 24 times, shot less than 50% from the stripe, and despite a valiant run that narrowed the deficit to just 3 points with about a minute left in the third quarter.
Defenders coach Matt Smiling almost immediately went to his not so secret fearsome four forward line up (Devin Daly, Nigel Jones, Luther Page, and Farron Lauriano) piloted by a somewhat gimpy Mykeil Tzul in the fourth quarter and the dwindled lead soon ballooned to 15 points with 5 minutes to play.
The Rebels were game but with less than 3 minutes still to play they knew they had fought too hard and come too far, there wasn’t much left to give.
Along with Isaiah Thomas, Tyrie Orosco and mainstay workhorse Brian White, Orange Walk’s dapper Troy Gabb Jr., has a keeper in young Andrew Vasquez. He may need more real-time, on-court minutes but his instincts, shooting and hard nose rebounding was a revelation.
Orange Walk’s passionate expert fans rode the roller coaster of their team’s performance with loud cheers, plenty of shouts of advice to Gabb and remonstrations to the referees who did a commendable job of ignoring their entreaties and imprecations.
The Rebels will seek to regroup against the PG Panthers next Saturday in the nation’s southernmost municipality while the Defenders will rest on the laurels of a 6 game win streak and a 6-1 record atop the standings.