by Berisford Codd Jr ©
American Luther Page dominated the Defenders inside the paint and local defensive ace Leroy Louriano stole everything in sight. Captain Stephen “Muerte” Williams controlled the pace throughout the game and the Bandits nearly doubled up on points off turnovers (33-17) to put Digicell Belize City Defenders to bed.
Belmopan, coming off last week’s tough loss to Dangriga, continued its steady improvement in execution, with the team shooting 29-58 (50%) from the field and scoring 48 points in the paint to earn the 85-80 win.
After falling behind early, the Bandits began attacking the Defenders full court press in the second quarter and blew the game wide open. With Luther Page working as the release man in the press, the Bandits gashed the Defenders throughout the entire second and won the quarter 27-3! Excellent ball movement by the Bandits starters created 30 points in the paint at halftime.
To add insult to injury in the second quarter, Defenders Head Coach Troy Gabb Jr. was ejected from the game with 2:57 remaining after arguing what he believed was one-sided officiating in favour of the Bandits. It might have been best for Gabb to direct that energy to his team, who committed a whopping 14 turnovers by halftime that resulted in 19 points for the Bandits off turnovers.
Bandits starting point guard Leroy Louriano answered the critics this week by taking on the responsibility of being the game changer on defense. Quick hands and instincts by Louriano caused a whopping 8 steals, a league wide season high! The pressure created by Louriano also netted him a game high +/- of +25 for the Bandits when he was on the floor!
The second half was about the duel between Luther Page and local legend Darwin “Puppy” Leslie. As the Defenders were trailing after that woeful second quarter, the veteran Puppy stepped up to the plate to deliver a monster second half to lead the Defenders comeback. Leslie was super-efficient in the second half, as he scored 27 of his game high 33 points on only 11 shots. Not to be outdone by the veteran, Page continued in his role as the press breaker to finish with 29 points (20 points in the second half). His aggressiveness going to the hoop allowed the Bandits to control the pace of the game and kill every run by the Defenders offense. Even after getting hammered by Puppy Leslie on a dunk attempt in the fourth, Page remained resolute in his attack and finished the game with 21 free throws attempts!
After the game, Captain Stephen Williams mentioned that “the Bandits had prepared all week to execute against the full court press, focusing on beating the pressure by being patient and making the extra pass to get better shots.”
What can we say other than practice…. makes perfect…
- American Nigel Jones was the only other Defender to score in double digits. He finished the game with 18 points and 7 rebounds, but was no match for the brilliance and aggression of Page. After scoring 50 points in last week’s victory over the Orange Walk Running Rebels, the Defenders bench struggled throughout to finish with only 9 points.
- Belmopan Bandits will play their next game on February 16th against the Orange Walk Running Rebels at the UB Gym.
- Digicell Belize City Defenders will visit Verdes at the Sacred Heart College Auditorium on February 16th.