Valencia Heat will challenge for their first Mackeson Super 10 title after defeating Defence Force 82-81 in Game Three of their “Big-Four” semi-final series at the Jean Pierre Sports Complex, Port of Spain on Sunday night.
Five-time champions Defence Force, who went down 94-88 and 78-68 in the first two games of the series, needed to win to keep their hopes of successfully defending their title alive.
The last time Defence Force were beaten in a playoff series was in 1991 when Casa Sangre Grande All Stars led by Richard Mungo defeated them by one-point in each game to win that championship 3-0 at the Jean Pierre Sports Complex.
On Sunday, Defence Force fell behind 13-8 in the first quarter and 38-30 at half-time, and by the end of the third period, they found themselves seven points adrift (63-56) and still in the contest.
But Valencia Heat held on for the win despite playing without two key players, Wayne Richards and guard Jonathan Weekes who were both injured in their Game Two win (78-68) last Tuesday in Maloney.
Prolific scorer Fabrice Fisher led the charge for the Heat, scoring 22 points and grabbing eight rebounds, while centre Dwayne Virgil and guard Kevon Noreiga both netted 16 points and forward Mario Davis added 13.
For Defence Force, national forward Steven “Lighter” Lewis led all-scorers with 35 points and four rebounds and centre Kievan Bacquain dropped in 14 points.
Defence Force will now play for third place against the losers of the other semi-final series between Petro Jazz and Caledonia Clippers.
Jazz lead the series 2-1 after the Clippers won Game-Three on Saturday to take the series in to a fourth game.
Game Four will be played on Thursday at Jean Pierre Complex from 8 p.m.