UWI Runnin Rebels beat Urban Knights 65-56 in NBL opener

Observer writer

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

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U WI Runnin' Rebels defeated defending champions Urban Knights 65-56 as the 2018 National Basketball League (NBL) got under way at National Arena last Saturday night.

The NBL tipped off after an absence of five years, and the season began with a very exciting encounter watched by a fair-sized crowd.

Winning coach Pete Matthews said he was very happy for the win, but it was a very competitive game.

“Both teams played extremely well but the Rebels, with it's more vast experience, got the better of the reigning champions with the support of some younger players,” Matthews said.

He said Urban Knights were still a very good team despite losing their first game, and that they will be one of the top contenders in the competition capable of a strong comeback as the competition progresses.

Meanwhile, losing coach Oneil Brown said he was not worried or upset with the defeat in his first game, as he was very pleased with the performance of his team.

“It's just the first game of the season and for the players and I am not really upset, as they really did a good job. The team should show their true class after playing the next three to four games, and should also be much stronger. The Rebels is a very strong team and they played well, but we have seen them play in the pre-games as one of the challengers. However, I am looking forward to winning our next game to get things going, as the season is still very young,” Brown said.

The Rebels' starting five, led by Kimani Ffriend along with Omari Green, Javaughn Bailey, Kemo Gordon, and Ramal Carbon, quickly make their presence felt from the first tip-off. They got the better of the Knights' starting five as they rushed to a 6-2 lead, but the champions rallied to level the scores at 8-8, though they trailed 11-15 at the first quarter break.

With businesslike approach, good teamwork and a combination of passes inside their opponents' defence, the Rebels moved further ahead 22-13 in the second quarter before the Knights quickly closed the lead at 22-23, though they went to the half-time break with a 29-26 lead.

It was a ding-dong battle in the third quarter as the team ended 42-42 to set up an intriguing final segment.

The Rebels made certain that the Knights did not produce a late burst and pulled further in front to take a nine-point win.

The principal scorers for the Rebels were Green with 17 points and nine rebounds, Ffriend with 13 points, Carbon with 11 points, and Andre McLean with 11 points and 13 rebounds; while for the Knights, Tommy McDonald had 12 points, nine rebounds and nine steals, and Fernando Young ended 10 points.

Meanwhile the St George's Slayers, coached by Rohan Robinson, defeated the Lennox Lindo-coached Spanish Town Spartans 74-52 in the second game.

Leading the scoring for the Slayers were Marlon Mills with 24 points, Michael Rogers with 20 points, and Anthony White with 17 points, nine rebounds and five steals; while for Spartans, Damion Johnson got 10 points and Brian Martin added eight points and 12 rebounds.

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