The Sandy Point PRIDEKINGS won the 2017 St. Kitts Nevis Amateur Basketball Association (SKNABA) Championship on Thursday night.
In the fourth game of a possible five-game series, PRIDE defeated the 2016 champions – the St. Paul’s Tuff Knots, 84-79. And the victory gave the PRIDE organization it’s first premier league championship and second SKNABA title in just 2 years of existence.
It is a satisfying end to a season for a team that saw their roster significantly reduced for a number of reasons, including the loss of one of it’s brightest and youngest stars Secada Garroden, but on Thursday night, when time ran out at Basketball City, the KINGS and all its fans could finally celebrate a championship.
The win represents the ascension of a team that had only joined the SKNABA league in 2015, who in it’s first year ran the table at the A-Division level to go an impressive 19-0. Then after being promoted to the island’s premier league, recruited other seasoned talented front court players to join its nucleus of back court assassins.
A balanced offensive attack helped to seal the deal, with five KINGS scoring in double digits for the 5th consecutive game of their 2017 playoff run. Taslin Dont-Cheat Hodge, the early favorite for finals MVP tallied 22 points 2 steals and 4 assists.
The youngest and arguably one of the fiercest competitors on the King’s championship roster- Cha Vez Belboda also played a key role with 22 points and 5 steals.
Graeme Browne , the hero from Saturday’s overtime Game 4 win, finished with 13 points 10 rebounds 2 steals and 2 blocks. National front court player and PRIDE center Jazbu Troy Wattley registered a solid double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds. While the team’s floor general – Javal Hodge clocked 10 points 7 assists 4 steals in 37 minutes of directing on court traffic and pushing the pace.
While the two sides were close in a low-scoring first quarter, a 7-0 run helped the KINGS to gain the early advantage to take a 4 point lead into half.
The momentum stayed with the lions, who weathered a valiant effort from the Tuff Knots big men and seemed to make a big play whenever St. Paul’s tried to come back.
The fourth-quarter defensive focus and game management was all that was needed for the KINGS to slam the door on any chance of a comeback and secure it’s first championship!
It was truly a magical run which culminated on Thursday night with chants of “Hub hub hub” and an overwhelming display of PRIDE by all in attendance.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Sports and SP PRIDE KING Big Fan Hon. Shawn K. Richards was on hand to witness the historic victory. In commenting DPM Richards said “I must express my tremendous PRIDE and joy in the achievement tonight of the SP Pride Kings. In this their inaugural entry in the Premier Division the Pride Kings are Champions . It is a great achievement by a tremendous sporting organisation group and basketball team.”
All hail the PRIDEKINGS, your 2017 SKNABA Premier League Champions!!