WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: Minister of National Security Jack Warner, left, smiles as he watches Laventille's community basketball team celebrated their victory over Marabella in the inaugural Hoop of Life Community Basketball League, which earned them that big cheque for $1 million. At right is Minister of Public Administration Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan. —Photo: courtesy Hoop of Life Media

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Laventille take $1m Hoop of Life title

In front of a crowd of some six thousand cheering basketball supporters, Laventille copped the $1 million first prize in the finals of the Hoop of Life Community Basketball League in Marabella on Tuesday night.

South-based Marabella won the $500,000 second prize after losing their first best-of-three away game to Laventille at St Barbs on Sunday 88-71, and then following this with another loss at home in Bayshore 66-57 on Tuesday, to bring to an end for this season, the most lucrative basketball league in the Caribbean.

Steven " Lighter" Lewis of Laventille once again dominated the points, registering on the scoreboard a game-high 26 points from a number of turnovers. He was ably assisted by another of their firebrands, Sheldon "Cato" Christian with 17 points. But despite this win, coach Karim Bilal was not all that pleased with his team's performance.

Although at home, Marabella did not have a good start. In fact, it was only in the middle of the first quarter that Marabella  posted their first two points on the board. At this point Laventille was already ahead by 11 points. But most of the southerner's problems were that their marking was weak… giving the right-handers too much room on their right side  to manoeuvre. And with the height of  players like Ashton Demurrel, Kenneth Roberts, and Steven Lewis for Laventille, Marabella was losing too many rebounds.

There was another weakness in Marabella's team which had to do with the lack of practise with Rekayi Issac on the team. The diminutive forward was making passes to his taller counterparts who were not reading the plays at all. This led to a lot of steals and turnovers which Marabella later paid a price for.

Both in the second and third quarters, Marabella seemed somewhat settled and played  more with the confidence of a home team, so much so that they top the Laventillians 14-6 in the second quarter and 21-19 in the third.

But after leading Laventille 47-46 following the third quarter going into the fourth, Marabella began to let their lack of experience show and the score went from 58-53 in Marabella's favour with 3:4 minutes left in the game to 66-57 at the buzzer.

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