The Caledonia Clippers are the 2019 - 2020 champions of the NBFTT National Invitational Championships (NIC) after defeating Stories of Success (SOS) Basketball Academy 108-95 on Sunday 16 th February, 2020 at the Maloney Indoor Sport Arena.
SOS entered game 2 already at a disadvantage after trailing the three-game series (0-1) following a loss to Clippers in game 1 on Thursday (13th February, 2020). In a frantic effort to keep their championship hopes alive, the SOS unit was combative from the jump, applying defensive pressure from coast-to-coast. During the first quarter it was a showdown between Clippers’ Kurt ‘Koto’ Christian and Ahkeel ‘Smally’ Boyd of SOS as the two guards were going at each other on each possession.
The young SOS group stayed within striking range in the first half of play ending the first two quarters 24-29 and 52-55, respectively, limiting the on-court production of Clippers’ Adrian Joseph through their defensive strategy. However, Ako Pascal who recorded a season high 35 points in Caledonia’s victory over SOS during the regular season, began to heat up scoring 11 of his 22 points in the second period. In the second half, the physicality of the contest grew much to the disadvantage of the SOS contingent.
Despite SOS’ open displeasure with the control of the contentious environment by the officials, the men in orange ferociously battled throughout the entire contest. In spite of SOS’ fight, it was not enough as Joseph, Pascal, Christian and defensive specialist Kirk Baptiste combined for 44-points in the Clippers’ 53-point charge towards the end of regulation sweeping their opponents 2-0 in the NIC Finals.
The NBFTT NIC jumped of last December (Sunday 15th December, 2019). Recognized as one of the federation's major competitions, the tournament was contested by the some of the top available teams in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) in the women’s and men’s divisions.
The seven (7) participating teams in the men’s division included T&T Police Service (TTPS), Brian Chase Basketball Academy (BCBA), Maloney Pacers, T&T Prisons, T&T Defence Force (TTDF), Caledonia Clippers and SOS.
In the women’s division Police, Defence Force, Brian Chase and Enterprise-Maloney Combined fielded teams to form a pool of four (4) in the competition.
Police was crowned champions of the tournament, with Defence Force placing second and BCBA securing third place in the women’s division.
In the men’s division SOS finished at the top of the table as the preliminary round concluded on Sunday 2nd February, 2020. Consequently, the Clippers, Defence Force and TTPS were ranked second, third and fourth, respectively.
Clippers swept TTDF 2-0 in the ‘Big Four’ semi-finals solidifying its place in the NIC Finals. SOS’ journey was a bit longer as they defeated Police 2-1 heading into the finals.
The finals matchup between the two (2) powerhouse teams began on Thursday 13th February, 2020 with SOS losing by 1-point (77-76).
Final Scores (Sunday 16 th February, 2020)
Clippers (108) v (95) SOS (Finals – Game 2)
Clippers – #22 Kirk Baptiste (25), #7 Ako Pascal (22), #8 Kurt Christian (22), #14 Adrian Joseph (16)
SOS - #10 Ahkeel Boyd (24), #32 Kern George (14), #8 Keron Stephens (12), #44 Jelani Valley (11) Interval Scores (Clippers-SOS):
1st Quarter: 29-24
2nd Quarter: 55-52
3rd Quarter: 86-70
4th Quarter: 108-95
Clippers win series 2-0.
MVP – Adrian Joseph (Clippers)
Best Defensive Player – Kirk Baptiste (Clippers)
Most Promising Player – Ahkeel Boyd (SOS)
Top Performing Coach – Colin Alleyne (Clippers)
Most Outstanding Manager – Milio Campbell (Police)
Most Outstanding Trainer/Physio – Nicole Abraham (Police)
Trinidad and Tobago will face Canada’s Senior Men’s Team in an international friendly on March 27th at Westhills Stadium in Langford, British Columbia, Canada.
This match will be T&T’s first since head coach Terry Fenwick’s appointment as senior team head coach as the country prepares for its CONCACAF Gold Cup playoff in June against either Guyana or Barbados.
“It’s great that we are getting this game. Obviously I’d like to bring some new faces into that first squad and mix it up and give everybody a shot in the arm. The existing squad that we got, they have not won for so long and it’s a difficult time for them,” Fenwick told TTFA Media.
“But that is football. We have now got to generate a bit of energy. We have got to get that passion going and I’ve got to see them guys out there wearing that badge. Listen this is Trinidad and Tobago (with) a bit of pride and passion to get back on track.
“Canada have had three years now where they’ve been working very hard in the background on their development process. They have got three top players that are playing in the Bundesliga at this time and they are good players. They want to be in that Hex.. that top six of Concacaf. That’s where we’ve got to be.
“It’s not going to be easy. I’m not starting with an easy throw away game. I want somebody who we can get our teeth into because I’ll be expecting big things. I’m not going to make it easy. My players… if they haven’t got Trinidad and Tobago at heart, don’t come. I want to see passion, commitment, doing it for your country. I think if we can instill and bring back a bit of passion and pride I think we have got the sufficient talent to turn over results,” Fenwick added.
Both countries have met 11 times at the international “A” level between 1977 and 2012, including competitive matches at the Concacaf Gold Cup and FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. Including their last meeting in 2012 (a Canada 2:0 win in Lauderhill, FL), Canada have seven wins, two draws, and two losses against Trinidad and Tobago. Canada also defeated T&T 2-0 in closed-door training in match in Los Angeles prior to the 2019 Gold Cup. T&T’s two previous wins over Canada came in 2002 World Cup qualifying semi-final round action, a 2-0 win in Edmonton followed by a 4-0 victory at the Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain in 2000.
Canada have previously met Trinidad and Tobago 11 times at the international “A” level between 1977 and 2012, including competitive matches at the Concacaf Gold Cup and FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. Including their last meeting in 2012 (a Canada 2:0 win in Lauderhill, FL), Canada have seven wins, two draws, and two losses against Trinidad and Tobago.
Already this year, Canada have posted two wins and one loss in three international matches played in January. Since 2018, Canada have won 12 of their 16 international matches. In 2019, Canada reached the Quarter-finals of back-to-back Concacaf Gold Cups for the first time since 2009 and finished second in their group of the inaugural Concacaf Nations League A (tied on points with USA, but second on goals difference). Canada also qualified for the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup and the next edition of Concacaf Nations League A.
T&T’s last international was 4-0 defeat to Honduras in CONCACAF Nations League qualifying on November 17th.
“We are still in the hunt for the Concacaf Hex and we have cut the points gap in half through Concacaf Nations League,” said John Herdman, Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team Head Coach on Friday. “We are focused on doing our best to pick up points and close the gap on that sixth spot in Concacaf.
““These are important games for Canada and we wanted to play them at home to give the team the best conditions possible to perform with the people of Vancouver Island providing us with that 12th man atmosphere,” said Herdman. “There’s something special about a small stadium when it is jammed packed and sharing these moments with fans young and old from football communities that don’t often get to see their national team heroes in the flesh.”
Note: Langford is a city on southern Vancouver Island in the province of British Columbia, Canada. A second full international between both teams will be played in this same FIFA international window but will not be opened to the public.