Georgetown lift Best of Best Trophy in 90-88 thriller
January 30th, 2002
By Joe Chapman - Guyana Chronicle, May 19, 2002
GEORGETOWN captain Andrew Ifill receives winning trophy from GABF president Colonel Godwin McPherson. Ifill was also named Most Valuable Player of the tournament. GEORGETOWN took the Best of Best basketball trophy by edging Linden 90-88 in a breathtaking final of the Empire Trust Incorporated-sponsored tournament at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall on Friday night.
This game was a gem and it mattered not who won as it was anybody's game with less than a minute in the cliffhanging encounter - the crowd on their feet for the entire game. In the end Georgetown's Senior side won the $150 000 incentive put up by Empire Trust Incorporated along with the Demerara Distillers Limited Trophy and replicas. Georgetown's dominant forward Andrew Ifill was declared the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. It was a game no one could complain about and the officiating was up to standard as Guyana's only International Basketball Federation (FIBA) referee Howard Peters and Lloyd Ross did a fine job.
The feature match began with Linden's best player in the tournament, Steve Neils (Jnr), showing that he was among the best guards locally, scoring to set the pace of the game and taking Linden in front 12-6 with 5:34 minutes left in the first quarter. But Andrew Ifill came into his own and Georgetown were able to grab the lead 13-12, and another Ifill jumper from 3-point territory pushed the city side ahead 15-12. Ifill then blocked his first shot from an opposing Linden player, triggering a quick break basket and Neils worked his way in to bring Linden within reach 15-15. Georgetown were able to wrestle the initiative by the end of this quarter, leading 24-21, after Neils had tied the game 21-all with less than a minute to go. Mark Amsterdam began the second quarter with a basket that brought the bauxite mining town side to trail by one point and Steve Neils (Jnr) took Lugard Mohan off the dribble to shoot Linden ahead 25-24 with 9:07 minutes left in this segment. When Seon Charles knocked one from downtown, Linden had taken a 33-27 points advantage.
Then Ifill filled the lane for a dunk shot with 4:52 minutes to go as Georgetown were behind 35-39 and an alley-hoop pass by Mohan to Ifill brought the crowd down with the slammajama dunk and Ifill netted another to knot the game at 39-all. Mohan was beginning to regain some of the old sparkle and his shot gave Georgetown the lead, which they held onto at the end of the first half, 45-44.
The statistics did not read well for Linden as Georgetown had dominated the offensive rebounding, taking 12 to Linden's two at that stage and raking in 15 defensive boards to Linden's nine. Yet Linden were in the game.
Significant was the fact that the entire bench of this youthful Linden team had taken to the court and all the players were in excellent touch. On the other hand, Georgetown's better-known players, apart from Ifill, were not clicking to their optimum.
Julius Gardener of Linden was proving a handful for his markers and Terrence James was a tower of strength in the middle, while Nolan Clarke made it difficult to handle in the off guard spot. As expected, Ifill was filling his role superbly with Mohan, Kerwin Blades and Clarence Bennett sharing the workload for the city side.
Linden first got the lead 48-47 and, after an exchange, were able to slip away 55-50 with 4:30 minutes to go in the third period. Nolan Clarke nailed a shot from beyond the arc to make it 67-60 as Linden got the advantage 71-63, going into the last quarter.
Nolan Johnson then nailed another 2-pointer for Linden and Lugard Mohan replied with one of his own but the mining town side held centre stage with 8:40 minutes left and ahead 74-68.
Then the first stoppage came when Mohan was given a technical foul as he disputed a call by referee Howard Peters with 7:59 minutes remaining, as paper cups and plastic bottles were thrown onto the playing area.
Georgetown then implemented a whole court press and a steal by Darcel Harris saw Georgetown still behind 70-75. But it was anybody's game at 77-77 with 4:30 minutes left. Neils then uncorked one from beyond the arc for a Linden lead 80-77, but Mohan converted one of two freebies for a 78-80 game. James scored twice and then another basket by him saw Linden in apparent control, leading 86-80 with 1:30 minutes to go.
With about a minute still in the game, Linden committed some five turnovers under pressure. Ifill was there to tip in a missed attempt with Georgetown behind 80-84. With just 36.2 secs in the game, Linden turned the ball over again, and Ifill was there to net another two points to knot the game at 88-88 and 28.6 seconds on the game clock.
The second real stoppage came through an uproar in the electric atmosphere of the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall. It came as victory was scented. Neils committed an unforced error when he misdirected a pass intended for Julius Gardner and it went out of bounds with a mere 24.1 secs to go. On the other end of the floor Neils then was blown for obstructing Mohan, arguably the best free throw shooter locally with Linden in the penalty.
It was the straw that broke the camel's back. Mohan buried both shots from the stripe and with that sank all hopes Linden had of winning a game they looked set to take just a minute earlier.
Georgetown persevered to win the war 90-88 and the series 2-1 after losing the first game of the best-of-three finals. Ifill was understandably named the tournament's MVP for his total scores of 248 points, 91 rebounds, 22 blocked shots, 16 steals and 21 assists.
In the final game Ifill was the top scorer with 27 points and 16 rebounds. Mohan supported with 22 points and Bennett 14. For Linden, Steve Neils (Jnr) had 17 points, Terrence James and Nolan Clarke each with 15 and Julius Gardener 13.
President of the Guyana Amateur Basketball Federation (GABF), Colonel Godwin McPherson, presented the winners' trophy donated by Demerara Distillers Limited to captain Andrew Ifill while the replicas were presented to all the members of the Georgetown men's team by family members of Christopher Douglas, who is CEO of the Empire Trust Incorporated, a major sponsor of the Best of Best tournament.
Rhythm Nation Host, Dimple Singh, presented the MVP trophy to Andrew Ifill while the East Coast team, who placed third in the men's tournament, received the Bish and Sons Store trophy.
The Georgetown women's team who defeated Linden females 2-1 in their series took home their trophy and replicas, compliments of Empire Trust Incorporated.
Georgetown men got $150 000 and Linden $75 000 for placing first and second in the male championship.
In the other game, Georgetown veterans won against a semi-veterans team from Linden 70-56 after leading 33-27 at halftime.
Dale Phillips top-scored for Georgetown with 20 points and Eon Andrews got 12. For Linden, Leslie Bastiani got 21 points, Abdulla Hamid 15 and Steve Neils (Snr) 11.