Spurs hold strong to force Game Three in BEL finals
Manchester Spurs defeated Kingston Hummingbirds 57-53 in Game 2 of Netball Jamaica’s Berger Elite League (BEL) best-of-three finals to tie the series at one-all inside the National Indoor Sports Centre (NISC) on Wednesday night.
Spurs started with a bang to claim a 17-12 lead at the end of the first quarter and extended that advantage big time to lead 33-24 at half-time.
As is customary, Kingston Hummingbirds, which have won the championship in the past two seasons, rallied and trailed 40-44 at the end of the third, then came within two points down with a minute remaining but failed to close out the series.
“We had our game plan and it’s for them to really work hard. Our team needs to push this Hummingbirds team to the limit, they’re the defending champions, so we didn’t want it to be a walkover. We said ‘hey, if you’re that good, then you’ve got to earn it’. So everybody has to come out and play their part,” said Manchester Spurs head coach, Connie Francis.
“We’re always ahead when the game starts, but we always seem to get sloppy and turn over the ball,” added Francis, whose team had never won the BEL League.
Goal shooter Gezelle Allison was outstanding, scoring 41 goals from 49 attempts to lead Manchester Spurs and claim the game MVP prize. Anna Kay Griffiths netted Manchester Spurs’ other goals, converting 16 of 20 tries.
At the other end, Sabrina Spence led Kingston Hummingbirds in scoring, netting 29 goals from 34 attempts, while Hasana Williams scored 18 of 19 tries and Shanice Beckford got six from seven.
The Hummingbirds’ ball handling was poor, especially in the first half and their head coach, Winston Nevers, blamed that and their offensive deficiencies on their demise.
“From the first quarter we were down by five and it’s difficult, we’ve never started (well), we’ve never hurried on the court and (seemed) ready to play; we were just so slow in passing the ball, slow in movement, slow in getting possession of that ball and keeping it in our possession,” bemoaned Nevers, who is seeking his first BEL title, in his first season coaching a team.
“We just continued to make some silly turnovers, we did not keep possession, it did not work this evening,” he noted. “It just cannot work like that, we need to keep possession, we need to play smart.”
Kingston Hummingbird won Game One of the finals 59-52 on Monday night.
The teams are all square and will decide the championship in Saturday’s Game Three, also at NISC. Both won one of their two preliminary games against each other and it is the same now in the finals.