Photo: Jamaica National Senior basketball team head coach Rohan Robinson
After seemingly toying with the Libertyville Vipers for all of three quarters on Sunday night, the Jamaica Jamrockerz turned in a superlative last quarter performance to vanquish the North American visitors 96-67 for a 29 points blowout win inside the National Indoor Sports Centre.
Both teams traded early blows as they assessed each other and after a close first quarter the hosts led but just two points at 19-17. The second quarter was more of the same with the Vipers keen on getting to the basket while the Jamrockerz were more interested in settling for the outside shot. Jamaica led 41-36 at the half time break.
There was no difference between the two teams in the third quarter, as they both scored 14 points during the period as the fans warmed to the fascinating contest.
But the Jamaicans turned up the throttle in the final quarter, especially on the defensive end, coming up with steals and blocks to take the Vipers out of their rhythm and converted a lot of fast break opportunities of their own.
As the lead grew, the crowd involvement increased and the home team fed off the energy inside the arena to pull away from the visitors in a one sided final quarter. The final few minutes became an exhibition as the Jamaicans came up with dunks and three point shots to entertain the frenzied crowd.
Kemar McLeish with 19 points and Anthony White with 14 led the score for the Jamrockerz while Delara Forel 19 and Turio Tomlin 18 had the most for the Vipers.
Jamaica’s coach Rohan Robinson was pleased with the outcome of the game, but said it was the response of the players to the half time team talk that led to the overwhelming victory.
“We were having some chemistry issues, we weren’t sharing the ball. Most of these players are top scorers for their clubs so they all wanted the ball. They did not want to share the ball and they did not trust each other. At half time we spoke about that and told them that we needed to share the ball more and defend a lot better.
“We did both those things well in the second half and we were able to pull away for a comfortable win in the end,” he said.
Jamaica will face the Guyana Golden Jaguars in the final on Monday night and coach said it will be about the matchups.
“They came with a much smaller line-up than we anticipated. After scouting them, we expected a much bigger team, but they came with a team of mostly guards so that gave us a bit of a problem when we faced them before, so we will have to get here early and work that out before the final beings,” Robinson said.
The third place game between the Vipers and the Jamaica U21 team at 6:00pm will precede the 8:00pm final and presentation ceremony.