After a year filled with prolific dunks, crafty passes, and intense defense, it's time for the New Providence Basketball Association (NPBA) to begin its playoffs.
This year's playoffs will consist of eight teams from both divisions - the defending champions MailBoat Cybots, The Real Deal Shockers, the Pyramid Food Rockets and the Island Luck Pros out of the Vince Ferguson Division, and the Commonwealth Bank Giants, the Y'Care Wreckers, the PJC Stingers and the Double R. Services Ltd. Cleaners out of the John Archer Division. The first round match-ups will see the Wreckers taking on the Stingers, the Giants going up against the Cleaners, the Shockers versus the Rockets, and the Cybots going up against the Island Luck Pros.
"I expect a very competitive playoffs this year. The season went very well," said NPBA President Keith Smith.
"The third and fourth spots in the John Archer Division went down to deciding games on Friday night. "There is no real separation between the teams, seeing how the division-leading Cybots suffered a few losses at the hands of divisional rivals."
The Giants ended the season as the league's top team, finishing with a 17-1 win/loss record. They have the league's leaders in assists (Michael Bain, 4.8) and rebounds (Jeremy Hutchinson, 11.5), and they lead the league in points in the paint and second chance points. The Giants like to impose their will on the inside and use their size to get easy buckets. Their only loss this year came in their last game, against the defending champions Cybots.
The Cybots had a solid year. They finished with a 14-4 record. They lost a few games earlier in the season, but after finding their rhythm, they returned to championship form. Their signature win against the Giants showed that they were ready for the post-season. The Cybots like to work the ball around, and love to shoot the corner three-point shot. Their team resembles the NBA's San Antonio Spurs. They have the league's second leading scorer in Eugene Bain (22.7 points per game-ppg), and they have great chemistry.
The Cybots and Giants are favored to make it to the championship, in what would be a rematch of last year's finals. Though they are favored, sleeper teams like the Stingers and The Real Deal Shockers play a tough, physical brand of basketball and could give any team a run for their money. The Stingers (13-5) defeated the Cybots this year and were in several close contests with the Giants. The Shockers is a high-scoring group that can heat up at any time. They have scored over 100 points eight times this season, and will be a tough first round opponent for the Cybots.
The Wreckers, Cleaners, Rockets and Pros have all been inconsistent this year. Y'Care has struggled to score at times and need to find a solution to their scoring droughts heading into the post-season. The Cleaners have the league's leading scorer in Lenny Oscar (23 ppg) but they lack other consistent scoring threats. They need to find a way to get others involved to stand a chance. The Pros' problems start on the defensive end. They have given up more than 120 points on three occasions this season. They need to find a way to get stops in order to be competitive, while the Rockets need to find a way to close out games. The Rockets have lost several games this year in the final few minutes.
"There is no real favorite this year. No team can expect to just cruise through the rounds and expect to make it to the championship," said Smith. "I want the best team to come out of this as champions, because they will have to defend the title of Commonwealth Champions when the play against the other islands later on this year."
The format for this year's playoffs will change during the rounds. The first round will be a best-of-three, the second will be best-of-five and the championships will be in a bes-of-seven format. The playoffs tip off tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the A.F. Adderley Gymnasium.
Click here to read more at The Nassau Guardian