Ravens clawed back in the second half to repel holders Panthers, 45-39, and lift the Jazzville Basketball League- Women’s Division Season 2 Cup at Satwa Park in Dubai.
Final MVP Yska Santiago led Ravens with 16 points, including four triples, while Eli Lizondra and Emm Matreo added 10 and seven points respectively.
Defending champions Panthers started aggressively and posted a five point lead, 16-11, at the end of the first quarter. They continued their fine form in the second period to remain ahead, 22-18, before the half time break.
But Ravens made a strong challenge in the third quarter and Santiago’s back-to-back triples shattered the zone defence imposed by Panthers, whose advantage hang by a thread, 31-30, going into the final period.
Matreo, who was adjudged Season MVP, opened the fourth quarter with a three-point play which gave Ravens the lead for the first time, 33-31.
Ravens never looked back as they turned merciless and imposed a suffocating defence which caused Panthers scoreless in the first five minutes of the payoff period.
Santiago then banked another triple in middle of fourth quarter which gave Ravens a double digit lead, 41-31, as they soared to their seventh straight win since the elimination round.
Ravens coach Bart Sarabia praised her players for clinching the Cup.
“We started slow but we soared and played smarter in the second half by adjusting with our defence and focusing it on the Panthers’ point guard (Lean Mary Ramirez) to break up their game,” Sarabiatold Sport360.
For her part, Panthers coach Ram Robleado said: “We were exhausted in the fourth quarter and our scoring also ran dry. Our zone defence collapsed after Santiago started hitting her triples.”
Meanwhile, Bonitas survived Magic’s fourth quarter surge and escaped with a very tight 49-48 win in overtime to bring home the third place trophy. Mythical 5 member Jaymie Llanes led Bonitas with 11 points.
Final MVP – Yska Santiago
Season MVP – Emm Matreo
Mythical 5 – Ronnagie Go, Lean Mary Ramirez, Wacky Lucio, Jaymie Llanes, Juvi Banaria
Best coach – Bart Sarabia
Ravens 45 – Yska Santiago 16; Eli Lizondra 10; Emm Matreo 7; Ronnagie Co 6; Lovely Rabena 4; Tin Siapoc 2
Panthers 39 – Lean Mary Ramirez 14; Jaycelle Estrada 10; Wacky Lucio 6; Ram Robleado 4; Gail Fermin 3; Janice Napao 2
Jazzville lit up the scoreboard from beyond the arc to crush TJ Dark Knights 88-64 and lift the PBBL-Western Union Season 13 Cup at Asma Bint Al Nouman Gym in Dubai.
Chris Elopre, who was adjudged Final MVP, exemplified Jazzville’s hot shooting with his almost perfect showing from the three-point area, making five of six attempts, to lead his team with 21 points.
He was also effective in ball distribution and filled up the stat sheet with a double-double performance after dishing out 11 assists.
Season MVP Jake Antonio also had a productive night, contributing 17 points, including three triples and five rebounds. Sam Perez made two three-pointers and finished with 14 markers while Ton Eligado and Von Gile added 12 and 10 points respectively.
TJ Dark Knights staged a short rally in the first few minutes of the fourth quarter but Elopre and Antonio quickly doused the rally with back-to-back triples en route to a big 24-point winning margin.
“We had a slow start but we worked on our defence and forced our opponents to commit numerous turnovers,” Jazzville coach Roland Crisostomo said. “Our outside shooting was lethal but we also had good ball movement and we always found the open man.”
“Winning the championship can be attributed to our fine work ethic – we hold team practice regularly,” added Crisostomo, whose team never experienced a defeat since the elimination round.”
For his part, TJ Dark Knights team captain Winston Lopez said: “We were not able to sustain the lead we built in the first quarter because we were caught flat-footed by Jazzville’s defence and suddenly our outside shooting went dry.”
Lopez and Enrico Bawic led TJ Dark Knights with 11 points each while Mark Bautista and Reydan Mabilog added 10 apiece.
Very few recreational basketball players get the opportunity to train with a professional club, but that’s exactly what Max Klein was fortunate enough to experience with OKK Celik Zenica.
Recreational’ does somewhat of a disservice to the 26-year-old, who does one-on-one training twice a week with Basicball Academy in Dubai.
Thanks to a new partnership signed between the academy and OKK Celik Zenica, Klein was allowed to practice with the Bosnia and Herzegovina team from December 14-23.
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The club had a previous connection to Basicball with the academy’s founder, Zoran Savic, as well operations manager Dzevad Alihodzic, being former players.
Klein couldn’t play in the team’s games, but he went through the rest of the training, which included two-a-day practices, scrimmages and hitting the gym.
“I went there wanting to see what it was like, not with too much expectations,” Klein said.
“In terms of practices and drills, it wasn’t anything surprising but it was just good getting back in the habit of playing with real solid guys.”
There’s a reason why Klein wasn’t too surprised with the nature of his training.
Since moving to Dubai in 2001, Klein, whose mother is American and father is Peruvian, has progressed relatively far in the sport.
After attending American School of Dubai where he enjoyed his high school basketball career, Klein went to college at the University of Arizona before transferring north of the border to the University of Waterloo in Canada.
There, he played on the basketball team in his final year, reaching the level just before professional.
Yet, for all his background in the sport, Klein admitted there was a bit of a learning curve with Zenica when it came to certain aspects of his game.
“I think it made me realise I need to work on my ball-handling,” he said. “The problem I had growing up in Dubai, being 6’6”, I played centre.
“Even at my university in Canada, we were a small team so I was playing at the four (power forward) or five (centre). I was always used to getting the ball down low, doing one or two quick moves and going to the basket.
“When I went to play with Zenica, I remember the first day I walked into the locker room – the average age is 19 which is really young for a pro team – I looked around and thought ‘okay this is going to be pretty easy’. Then everyone stood up and all but two guys were either my height or taller.
“So all of a sudden I’m training with guards and doing ball-handling and shooting drills, doing more from the outside. It was an eye-opening experience.”
Okk Celik Zenica did a nice job revitalizing their roster adding Dino Hodzic, Tomko Sokolov and new coach Mladen… http://t.co/zuIwzInLaN
— chris mathieu (@mathieu_chris) January 5, 2015
There’s no doubt that becoming a professional athlete gets harder the older you get, but at the age of 26, Klein isn’t ruling out a leap to the pros, especially in Europe.
“I’ve always thought of playing at a professional level,” he said.
“Luckily for me, I work in finance and have a good job so things are okay there. I was thinking if things don’t pan out in the next year, something changes or maybe I start hating what I do, then I want to keep that option open.”
In terms of the sport’s development in the UAE, Klein has seen first-hand how far it has come and how much it continues to grow.
“I think basketball has drastically improved, it’s gotten three, four times better than it was,” Klein said.
“It’s just the education and I think it’s getting there. Hopefully Dubai can be a hub for Middle Eastern basketball.”