Basketball: Curtain-raiser competition-PLS Hawks dethrone Premium Cobras, Aglaé gives Mont Fleuri buzzer-beater win


Reigning division one league champions Hawks dethroned last year’s winners Premium Cobras with an 83-60 victory for the men’s title, while Mont Fleuri snatched a last-second 66-65 win against HotShots to replace Anse Etoile Stars as champions.

Saturday’s men’s final got off on a rather slow tempo with Hawks leading 18-7 after eight minutes of play. Steve Servina closed the gap for Cobras at 18-9 before Hawks’ Nigerian player Alao Solomon made it 20-9.Captain Amadou Sylla chipped in another for Cobras, bringing the score to 20-11 with 35 seconds remaining. A trey from Jean-Paul Desaubin gave Hawks a 23-11 lead, before Sylla converted two free throws to close the first quarter 23-13 in Hawks’ favour.

Hawks’ Solomon drives past Sylla

Premium Cobras started the second period on a more aggressive note, leaving Hawks with only a two-point advantage (25-23) halfway through the quarter. This forced coach Alix Allisop to call for a time-out. His advice fell on good ears as Hawks pushed forward for a 31-26 lead. With two minutes remaining in the second quarter, Cobras’ new recruit Dan Côme closed the gap with a trey (31-29) before Sylla cut the lead to a single point 30-31 with a free throw. With one minute of play remaining Côme gave Cobras the lead for the first time in the match at 32-31. Solomon restored Hawks’ lead at 33-32, before Francis Herminie, who was playing his first match of the season after being suspended, put Cobras back in the lead 34-33.
Dominique then added two more points for Cobras, giving the boys of coach Peter Bresson a 36-33 half-time lead.

In the third quarter, the lead constantly changed hands, until in the seventh minute when captain Bernard Bristol gave Hawks a 53-49 advantage, which proved to be the point of no return for them. Another trey from Desaubin made it 58-52 for Hawks, before he increased the lead 60-52 with two free throws. Ranny Nancy added another point for Cobras, ending the third quarter 60-53.

With five minutes played in the fourth quarter and the scoreboard reading 66-57 in favour of Hawks, Cobras’ Herminie had to leave for an early shower after being hit with a technical foul – his fifth personal foul – for arguing with the officials who had blown for a foul against him. Solomon missed three out of the four free throws awarded, bringing Hawks’ lead to 10 points (67-57). Hawks then pinned down Cobras as they embarked on a 16-3 run with three minutes remaining, ending the match 83-60.

Solomon was Hawks’ top scorer with 38 points, while Dominique Pillay was Cobras’ top scorer with 18.
The women’s final was decided in the dying seconds of the match with captain Lindy Aglaé netting the winning basket victory as Mont Fleuri edged Anse Boileau-based HotShots 66-65.

Mont Fleuri took early control of the match, winning the first two quarters 16-13 and 12-10 for a 28-23 half-time lead.
It was in the third period that HotShots stepped up their game to win 20-16, but they still trailed the Mont Fleurians by one point – 43-44 – with 30 minutes gone.

MONT FLEURI … women’s Curtain-raiser winners

With only seconds left in the match and HotShots in the lead 65-64, Mont Fleuri spoilt their show with centre Aglaé scoring the winning basket that gave Mont Fleuri a 66-65 win and the women’s Curtain-raiser title as the two teams tied at 22-22 in the fourth quarter.

The winners received their cups from the chief executive of the National Sports Council Alain Volcère.

What the winners said:

PLS Hawks’ head coach Alix Allisop
“Our initial game plan today was to play inside, forcing Cobras to commit fouls, but it did not work that well. We, however, remained focused, though we lost concentration at times. It is still early in the season and both teams are still polishing their games. So I am satisfied with the match and the level of play. Our main aim of the season is to win the league and knock out titles, but that does not mean we will be neglecting other competitions, including the Indian Ocean Club Championship if we get a shot at it.”

Mont Fleuri’s coach Tony Juliette
“Despite the win, I’m not satisfied with the way we played today compared to our previous matches where both our inside and outside plays worked really well. Our shooting did not work, whereas the inside players gave their maximum, although committing some mistakes. We could have won the match by a wider margin. The win is also a warning to our rivals in the league that this season we will be seriously contesting for the title.”
R. D.

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