HE was hot early, then cooled off before getting hot again to help former champions Premium Cobras extend their winning streak to six games in the men’s division one league on Sunday at the Palais des Sports.
Amadou Sylla broke the tie at 60-60 with a shot from way downtown with 2 minutes 03 Sylla (hands raised) plays defence on Baya’s Robert Léonseconds (2:03) left on the clock and added two more points on a lay-up in traffic with 6.8 seconds left to give Premium Cobras a deserved 66-61 win over Baya.
Although Nigerian Michael Ohiero – who stepped up big time to provide the spark for the Cobras in their 75-65 league win against defending champions PLS Hawks a fortnight ago – top-scored for coach Guy Hall’s team with 19 points including two-3-pointers, Sylla stole the limelight with his late heroics.
After Baya’s Jean-Paul Camille hit a jumper on his first try, Cobras rushed to an 11-2 lead before closing the first quarter 20-11. And although Baya won the second quarter 18-14, they still trailed Cobras by five – 29-34 – at the half.
After coming off the bench to score 19 points, playmaker Giovanni Laval tied the score at 40-40 on a trey with 5:28 to play in the third quarter and captain Dave Roseline gave his team the lead at 45-44 with 2:55.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Baya had a four-point advantage – 53-49 – which quickly vanished into thin air as they were guilty of misfiring from the free-throw line. They lost the decisive quarter 8-17 and the match 61-66, putting Cobras, whose starters outscored Baya’s 53-30, into the right frame of mind for the rest of the championship.
Are the Cobras returning to dominate the game here after their last championship win in 2006 and can they maintain the momentum?
“We are in a god position and in enjoying a good run of results,” power forward and captain Dominic Pillay told Sports Nation after the win.
“We have to continue on this momentum and make sure we beat our main rivals in the second round,” added Pillay, who finished as Cobras’ third best scorer with 10 points behind Ohiero’s 19 and Sylla’s 14.
Other than Laval with 19, Roseline was the only Baya player to score in double figures with 15 before fouling out with 6:08 left to play in the fourth quarter.
On Saturday at Victoria Gymnasium, defending champs PLS Hawks got 33 points from Nigerian Alao Solomon and 19 from evergreen power forward Jim Domingue in an 84-43 victory over winless Razors.
On the same day, Anse Boileau-based Angels were paced by Chabel Servina with 18 points, while Daniel Dodin and skipper Keiren Agathine combined for 22 in a 64-61 win over Cascade Bullets, whose top scorer was captain Biko Biong with 14 points.
In a women’s league encounter played on Sunday, HotShots had three players scoring in double digits – Jenita Toussaint with 18 including four treys, Myra Solin 15 and Beguitta Fontaine 12 including two 3-pointers – in a 54-38 victory against RA Sisters, who got 14 from Sylvie Meme.
In the men’s second division, Anse Etoile beat Praslin Warriors 67-61 and Drifters inflicted a 73-56 defeat on Beau Vallon.