SEYCHELLES : National League - Cobras’ rally falls short, lose win streak to Baya

IT was a crazy game. Just when Premium Cobras thought everything was OK after bridging a 20-point deficit and taking the lead, they lost.

That’s what a game of hoop is all about, and no one can deny Baya their 73-67 victory that snapped Cobras’ 12-game winning streak to throw the men’s division one championship wide open.

Saturday’s battle of former champions at the Palais des Sports had all the ingredients of an epic title match, and the fans were on the edge of their seats in the latter stages of the encounter as the two sets of players battled hard out on the court.

Victory for coach Guy Hall’s Cobras would have meant a step closer to the title, while a third defeat for Baya would have spelled the end of their championship dream.

Missing small forward Dave Roseline and with a shorthanded bench, Baya won the first two quarters 20-13 and 21-11 for a 41-24 half-time lead. On a playmaker Giovanni Laval layup from a Robert Léon feed with 3 minutes 34 seconds (3:34) played in the second period, their advantage had ballooned to 20 points – 46-26.

At this point Baya appeared to have put the game out of reach, but as their starters got some rest, Cobras used the opportunity to chip away, reducing the deficit to 10 points – 52-42 – and when Nigerian Michael Ohiero got the fifth of his game-high six 3-pointers with 7:53 left in the fourth quarter, Cobras led 55-54 and Baya had to readjust their game to respond to the challenge.

On a captain Hendricks Denis trey, Baya tied the score at 60-60 (5:26) before Nigel Annette completed a three-point play and Steve Denis buried a shot from downtown off the dribble, bringing their lead to 66-60.

Ohiero again got Cobras back at 66-66, but his team could only score one more point in the final minute as Baya got seven including a decisive long trey from Annette, who finished with six points off the bench.

Shooting guard Steve Denis finished with five treys for 15 of his team-leading 26 points, while Laval (15 points), centre Léon (13) and captain Hendricks Denis (11) contributed in Baya’s important win, cancelling out the first-round 61-66 loss.

Baya, who brought their win-lose record to 11-2, warmed up for Saturday’s match with a 109-62 win over Anse Boileau-based Angels on Thursday.

Ohiero finished with a game-high 32 points but could not propel his side to a 13th win and he was not helped by Amadou Sylla, who was a shadow of himself with a paltry 2 points compared to the 14 he scored in the first-round encounter when he came up big, scoring in traffic in the final two minutes.

Darren Lesperance was the only Cobra in double digits with 21 points, included four treys.
Also on Saturday, Steven André proved he is not only good at scoring goals in handball, but can also bank free-throws in crunch time.

As time expired, the Mont Fleuri Dawgz shooter was fouled by Alvin Marie, who fouled out, and he made a trip to the foul line to bury two shots to give his team a 63-62 win over MBU Rockers and overcome a big game from Nigel Sinon.

André finished with five points, while young Kevin Romain pulled the strings for coach Nigel Ah-Kong’s Dawgz with a team-high 21 points. Didier Valmont added 11 in his team’s win after they dominated the first and third quarters 16-10 and 26-14.

Captain and playmaker Sinon finished with a game-leading 31 points but they were not enough to earn Cyril Agrippine-less Rockers the full points.

Defending champions PLS Hawks, whose midweek match against RA Herons was not played as there were no referees, earned a 60-point difference win – 97-37 – against RC Dynamics on Sunday to stay in the title hunt.

Cascade Bullets also registered a big win on Sunday, beating RA Herons 97-31.

Meanwhile, in the men’s division two, Pointe Larue Falcons added a twist to the championship with an 83-77 overtime win over Anse Boileau-based Drifters, while Juniors edged Beau Vallon Heat 43-42 and Praslin Warriors earned a 72-55 win against visitors Anse Etoile.

In the women’s league, Veena Panagary buried 35 points to lead Mont Fleuri to a 92-19 win over Cadettes, who got nine points from N. Sifflore.

G. G.