by Glenn Tillett
Between these lines …
San Pedro Tiger Sharks’ big man Martevuius Adams must at times feel like Gulliver among the Lilliputians. He is the biggest player in the league, and he takes a pounding, a ton of abuse, usually without complaint.
Tonight, his frustration finally boiled over and after a hard shove of an opposing player and pointed words to the referee in the fourth quarter he was gone. And with his ejection so did whatever chances the defending champions had of winning the game and remaining in first place, also exit.
The Tiger Sharks never led tonight’s game at the Civic by da Riva, their hosts, Belize City’s Digi Defenders were primed, ready and eager for revenge in “the clash of the titans”, a game between the two teams tied for first place and a return match, the Defenders having lost the first game out on the island. Unlike that game, Digi quickly bolted out to a double-digit lead that at times ballooned to near 20 points, and only narrowed to single digits twice.
But despite that fact, it was a competitive game that had playoff intensity, lots of hard fouls, and an on-court altercation. Unfortunately, Digi’s guard Shaquille Crawford had to be taken to the locker room via stretcher after a horrific fall and never returned.
As with all good stories it had drama and melodrama. The matchup of the teams’ shortest players, Digi’s Mykeil Tzul versus the Sharks Francis “Frank” Arana was well worth the price of admission. Both are speedy fireplug guards who can shoot and play pesky defense. Both are two of the fiercest never-say-die competitors you will ever see.
The combination of Adams and Arana is a basketball classic, one almost diminutive but fleet and quick, the other a large, ponderous presence. The Sharks are a different team when either is off the court, especially Adams, and with him, they’re near unbeatable on their home court out on the island.
Matt Smiling guys wanted to push the pace from the opening tap to negate Adams presence in the middle, and that worthy was on the bench for long periods in the first half as Rico Black sought to conserve him for the stretch run. Indeed, they managed in the third to cut the lead to just 4 points on an Adams layup, but he had to return to the bench, and it ballooned into double digits again.
Digi lost Shaquille Crawford at the end of the third, and Matthew Smiling went to a four forward line up, all lithe, lean and mean, length and speed, of Delvin Daly, Luther Page, Farron Louriano and Nigel Jones, along with Tzul. And that as they say, that was what it wrote.
Adams layup, again, brought the Sharks within 9, 80-71, with 7:40 left to play but two personal fouls and two technical fouls later he was gone with 6:28 remaining.
Digi seized sole possession of first place with the win, and if they can beat Orange Walk’s Running Rebels next Friday at the Civic, not only would they have run their win streak to 6, but more importantly would have recorded a victory over nearly every other team in the tournament. It’s still early but none could deny that they are the class of the NEBL if that was the case.