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Jun 29, 1998

Milton Palacio named MVP as Belize wins gold in CARICOM

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The drought that once plagued Belize’s quest for regional recognition in the world of sports is officially over. At least for basketball as the national male team proved to thousands who crammed the City Centre on Friday night that they are for real. As James Adderley tells us in tonight’s Shell CARICOM Report, not since the golden girls of the seventies has Belize’s state of euphoria been given such a workout.

Good evening, I’m James Adderley and welcome to our final Shell CARICOM Report. Most of us will miss the eight days of excitement that the fourteenth CARICOM Basketball Championship brought to Belize. However, Friday’s closing schedule will stay with us for a long time.

We join the bronze medal evening with the defending champion Jamaica looking for its first win but at the half they’re down by 17. After intermission it’s Steve Johnstone with help from Sean Titus forcing the turn over which leads to the slam-dunk for J.A. The dish to Duvall Simmons is good and he strikes for 3. But the Bahamians have bronze on their minds and won’t give in. The nice dish to big man Dexter Cambridge and its good. Quinton Hall hooks up with Hanna and he drops the tre. And then Dexter Cambridge comes up with the loose ball to score 2 more points in easy fashion. Bahamas wins big 90-76 and takes the bronze while Jamaica who came in as the defending male champion leaves the “Jewel” with no wins in 5 appearances.

Meanwhile the female gold medal game finds undefeated Bahamas in action against 4 and 1 Jamaica and it’s tied at 44 a piece with 7:33 remaining in the ball game. Bahamas breaks the tie when Natasha Miller finds Kimberly Rolle who strikes for 2. Then Shantel Rolle finds Miller under the rim and the hook-up works for 2. When you give up this kinda space to Dona Cameron of Jamaica, she’ll hurt as demonstrated. Oberon Pitierson then quarterbacks this pass to Redley who gets the bucket. But the Jamaicans couldn’t come any closer than 4 points as Shantel Rolle throws the pill in the air and the gold goes to Bahamas in the 58-52 score. Jamaica settles for silver while bronze goes to Barbados.

So now we go to the monster match-up as Belize goes for the gold against Barbados and if you missed this outing – you missed a good thing. The first points of the ball game come when Fred Garcia calls glass and Belize scores first. When Alex Carcamo goes to the baseline jumper he gets rejected by Brian Griffith, which makes us know it’s going to be a real ballgame. Griffith then comes up with a beautiful hook at the other end and we’ve got real parity people. Barbados takes a 10-8 lead when Griffith misses but Sidney Rowe streaks in for the put back.

At the other end Olin Simpliss deals to Fred Garcia and he puts the 2 to fall. Claude “Too Tall” Jones then misses the lay-up, Keith Acosta moves in for the put back and it’s good. Keith Acosta comes up with the loose ball and he gets 2 more. With 2.3 seconds to go in the half Olin Simpliss decides to beat the clock and its like Deja Vu as he hits again – only this time it’s a long 2 and at the half Belize is up by 2.

After intermission the Belize team looks for the run and it pays off with Alex Carcamo at the finish. On the very next play Carcamo comes right back, this time with the exclamation mark. When Milton Palacio misses, it’s Keith Acosta with the follow-up. He would finish with a team high of 19 points. Again Palacio misses only this time it’s Alex Carcamo to the rescue. But tonight belongs to Keith Acosta and he gets 2 from good teamwork. This deceptive inbound pass to Kirk “Shabba” Smith is hammered home as Belize goes up by 14 with 8:14 to go.

However, Barbados like all good teams, make a run: Nigel Lloyd in traffic sinks the long 2. The deadly Lloyd then gets Kirk Smith into the air and banks it off the glass for 2. From the corner Lloyd wants 3 and gets it to cut the deficit to 9. Ryan Leecock then launches the tre from the left side and it’s good. Lloyd, who would finish with the game high of 21, shoots this 3 to cut the lead to 5. Still this is the straw that broke the camel’s back – the long pass from Kent Bennett to Alex Carcamo for the left hand slam as Belize goes on to win 75-71 to take the gold – so let the celebrations begin.

The fourteenth CARICOM Basketball Championships has given us the gold and we say congratulations to one and all.

That’s the Shell CARICOM Report; I’m James Adderley.

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