The finals have gone the distance again.
Hilton Barbados Warriors forced that Game 5 after all, even without scoring, having held off Lumber Company Lakers for the final two minutes of Sunday’s 75-72 victory in the Co-operators General Insurance Premier League finals at the Barbados Community College.
Resuming Thursday’s blackout-shortened game leading 75-68, Warriors made sure to avoid any monumental collapses over the last 1:42 to send the best-of-five championship series into a decisive fifth game last night.
It’s the third time in five years that the defending champion Lakers were forced to play a Game 5 after splitting a pair league finals with Pinelands in 2014 and 2017.
But they tried their best to avoid another finals decider, as point guard Chiamaka Browne scored two free throws immediately on the game’s resumption before Lakers picked up in a full-court press.
Warriors then quickly called a timeout to avoid coughing up the ball in backcourt only to watch Tremaine Shaw commit a turnover just seconds later.
However, Lakers still couldn’t capitalise, as national shooting guard Keefe Birkett was subsequently tied up for a possession-changing jump-ball before missing yet another wide open trey on the very next play.
It served as the cap to a woeful finals performance thus far from the reigning MVP, who’s gone an uncharacteristically cold 11 of 37 from behind the arc.
Birkett did redeem himself somewhat though, hitting a short jumper soon afterwards to make the contest a one-possession game (75-72) with 26 seconds left to play.
But for some odd reason Lakers opted not to foul, and Warriors wisely used all 24 seconds of the shot clock to force the champs to take a harmless full court heave at the horn.
MVP front-runner Jamar “Spanner” Headley led Warriors with 17 points and 16 rebounds, rookie national swingman Justin Pile scored 15 points and Shaw and Nicholai Williams chipped in with 12 points apiece.
For Lakers, national forward Mark Bridgeman scored 20 points, professional centre John Jones had 14 and Ricardo “Howard” Jemmott added ten points and 11 boards off the bench.
Game 5 was slated for the Wildey Gymnasium Monday night. (JM)