Barbados just can’t beat Guyana. Not even with Haiti’s help.
The men’s national team missed the perfect chance to make its long-awaited return to a final, having lost last night’s 76-71 stunner to Guyana in the semi-finals of the FIBA AmeriCup Caribbean Basketball Pre-Qualifier in Suriname.
It was the bitter end to what started as a sweet Friday for Barbados, who earned a shocking final four berth after Haiti were disqualified for fielding eight ineligible players.
But the Bajans simply couldn’t capitalise on their good fortune, allowing Guyana to advance to the final and book a spot at the FIBA AmeriCup Qualifier with a decisive 12-4 fourth-quarter run.
The defeat was their third in four games against a young South American side that surprisingly won last month’s Border Clash series here.
Guyana showed it was no fluke, though, leading by as many as 17 points (32-15) in the first quarter before taking control of the contest early in the fourth.
Clinging to a 60-55 advantage, the Guyanese reopened their double-digit lead on three-pointers from Anthony Moe and Shane Webster that sandwiched an Orlon Glasgow layup.
Stanton Rose then tossed in a buzzer-beating banker before Ray Victor capped the run with a steal and layup in transition.
Captain Jeremy Gill only compounded things for Barbados by blowing an uncontested layup after gifting Victor with that late turnover.
Barbados still managed to make things interesting, as Andre Lockhart hit a big triple and a running banker following Akeem Marsh’s short hook to reduce the deficit to eight (74-66).
Marsh then returned to hit a long jumper before Keefe Birkett did likewise (74-71) when Rose and Victor missed four straight crucial free throws.
However, Rose finally made one from the line and Justin Pile threw away the ensuing inbounds pass to seal Barbados’ fate.
At least the Bajans didn’t get blown out after suffering another slow start that saw yet another opponent carve up their painfully poor man-to-man defence.
Feasted on the sweets
This time it was Victor who feasted on the sweets, scoring three wide open triples in the first quarter against a starting unit side was slow to get over the top of screens.
Anthony Moe got in on the act with a pair of long- range bombs too, as part of a 10-0 run that helped Guyana open up a quick 17-point lead (32-15).
Barbados couldn’t even protect the paint either, as Moe and Shane Webster also scored some easy layups before taking advantage of a series of live ball turnovers.
Yet the Bajans started to rally to begin the second, getting within nine (32-23) following two Andre Lockhart jumpers and baskets from Pile and George Haynes.
But Marsh was called for an unsportsmanlike foul and Guyana reopened a 43-30 cushion after Victor got free for a rim-rattling jam and Stanton Rose buried a long triple over Lockhart.
However, Barbados finally responded by switching to a 2-3 zone that held their opponents scoreless for a near five-minute stretch before the half-time break.
And the Bajans immediately took advantage at the other end via an 11-0 run fuelled by Lockhart, who bullied his way to the charity stripe for four free throws.
Marsh added a pair of his own prior to converting an easy layup before Charles Vanderpool capped the run with a midrange jumper (43-41).
Barbados started the half slowly again, though, giving up yet another triple to Victor, who also scored two free throws to put Guyana back up 60-48.
But Marsh ended the slide with a short hook before Saeed Norville got out in transition for a tough “and-one” finish.
The rookie swingman apparently was just getting started too, as he turned two turnovers into layups at the other end to keep Barbados within striking distance early in the fourth quarter.
Lockhart finished with 24 points and Marsh and Norville both scored 12, while Victor led all scorers with 25. (JM)