Caledonia Clippers crowned NIC b-ball champions
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)