Belmopan Bandits triumph over San Pedro Tiger Sharks
Monday, June 5th, 2017
The Pepsi National Elite Basketball League (NEBL) season closed on Saturday, June 3rd as the San Pedro Tiger Sharks hosted Belmopan Bandits in game three of the finals held in San Pedro Town. The game was played at the Angel Nuñez Auditorium, which was packed to capacity for the championship game. Despite having the home-court advantage, the Tiger Sharks were overcome by the Bandits, who claimed the NEBL 2017 Championship with a final score of 75-67.
Hundreds of basketball fanatics filled the auditorium, leaving standing room only. When the game started at 9PM, the cheers grew to a deafening roar as both teams took to the court.
The Belmopan Bandits took the lead in the first minutes of the first quarter, but the home team caught up and briefly jumped ahead. By the end of the quarter, however, the Bandits had a marginal game point of 18-17. Despite dominating the court in the second quarter, the Tiger Sharks fell short by the end, and the Bandits managed to hold on to a comfortable lead of 44-30 at the end of the first half.
The third quarter saw pretty much the same story, the Tiger Sharks tried to make an aggressive comeback, but once again, they were overcome by the Bandits, who closed the quarter with a lead of nine points, 60-51.
The fourth and last quarter was the most intense, and fans were on the edge of their seats. The lead changed several times, with the Tiger Sharks even nabbing a five point lead a few minutes before the final buzzer. However, the Belmopan Bandits quickly regained their composure, netting key shots, and getting crucial defensive stops. The Tiger Sharks were crippled, and even though they fought hard until the end, the Bandits stole a 75-67 victory. The win gave the Belmopan Bandits their first NEBL Championship in franchise history.
The key players in the San Pedro Tiger Sharks, who made crucial contributions to the team’s performance, were Jamal Kelly with 20 points, six rebounds, and two dimes. George Williams tallied 19 points and four rebounds. Raul Roches netted 11 points, had 13 rebounds and three assists.
The Belmopan Bandits were led by Devin Daly, who had the game high with 25 points, six rebounds, two steals, and one assists, while, Edgar Mitchell had a solid game with 12 points, seven assists and four boards. Richard Smith III and Stephen Williams both sealed the win with 11 points and seven rebounds each.
After the game officially ended, there was a massive celebration on the court. Awards were handed out and the San Pedro Tiger Sharks were honoured with their second place trophy. This was followed by Belmopan Bandits receiving their championship title and trophy as well. The individual awards were given out, and Belmopan Bandits’ Devin Daly was named the top scorer of the game with 25 points and named the finals Most Valuable Player.
Minister of Defence and owner of the Belmopan Bandits, Honourable John Saldivar expressed his satisfaction for his team’s victory. “We want to make Belmopan the capital of sports, so this is the beginning of that trend,” he said. Saldivar who also owns a football team with the same name, were crowned national champions of the Football Premier League of Belize recently this year.
The NEBL congratulates the San Pedro Tiger Sharks for reaching the NEBL finals for four straight years, and of course, congratulates the Belmopan Bandits on their first championship. Special thanks go to the National Channel (TNC) for being the corporate sponsor and airing the games live, and to Pepsi for partnering with the NEBL this season. Respect goes to all the team managers, coaches, players, fans, referees, table officials and supporters of the NEBL, as they continue to grow the sport of basketball in Belize.
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