San Pedro Tiger Sharks out of the 2018 NEBL championship

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

For the first time in the National Elite Basketball League’s (NEBL) five-year-history, the San Pedro Tiger Sharks will not be contesting the big prize. The island team was after being eliminated by the Digicell Belize City Defenders on Saturday, May 19th in the last game of the semi-finals. The Tiger Sharks gave their best shot on the court, dominating most of the match, however, it was not enough to overcome their opponent, who stole the crucial victory by a tight 78-74.
In the final match between Tiger Sharks and Belize City Defenders, the ambience inside the Angel Nuñez Auditorium was tense as both teams had something to prove to their fans, the league and the nation. Tiger Sharks closed the first quarter with a marginal 25-24, but widened the gap during the first three minutes of the second quarter taking a 10-point lead. The Belize City team kept the pressure, but even though they managed to narrow the island team’s lead by halftime, Tiger Sharks still had a four-point advantage, (48-44) at halftime.
The Belize City Defenders made a surprising comeback in the third quarter, catching the home team off guard. As the leads kept changing, fans’ cheers and boos filled the auditorium. A few errors gave the Defenders the advantage, and they stole the third quarter with a small two-point lead, 65-63. In the final quarter, the Defenders did not relinquish any opportunity to the Tiger Sharks. The island team desperately fought for a lead, going for a few three-pointers that never made it into the basket. Time ran out, however, and it was the Digicell Belize City Defenders that celebrated the victory, winning 78-74 and advancing to the finals.
The Digicell Belize City Defenders team is the first team in the NEBL’s history to make the finals after entering the playoffs as the #4 seed and defeating a #1 seed team –the Tiger Sharks. It is also the first time in NEBL history that a semi-finals series has stretched out to three games.

The key players for the Defenders include Nigel Jones with 25 points and 18 rebounds. Darwin ‘Puppy’ Leslie had 18 points and seven rebounds, and Francis Arana finished the game with 15 points. The top scorers for the Tiger Sharks were Jihad Wright with 19 points and eight rebounds and Martevious Adams, who made an NEBL record of 20 rebounds and 17 points.
The other semi-finals match took place on Monday, May 21st, between Smart Belize Hurricanes and Dangriga Dream Ballers. The game ended with a 60-54 win in favour of the Hurricanes, who will now face the Digicell Belize City Defenders at the finals.
Game one of the finals between Defenders and Hurricanes will be on Friday, May 25th at the Belize City Civic Centre starting at 9PM. The championship match will then take place on Friday, June 1st at the same venue and at the same time.

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