Cayman loses thriller to Gibraltar

Shaad O'Garro goes up for two of his 18 pts against Gibraltar.

The Cayman Islands national men’s basketball team lost their opening game of the 2017 NatWest Island Games in Gotland, being edged 108-105 by Gibraltar in an exciting encounter that needed two overtime periods to determine a winner.

Cayman though would be taking a hard look at themselves in the mirror after surrendering a 19-point lead in the third quarter.

After taking what appeared to be a commanding 30-14 lead after the first quarter, Cayman played at pace to control the tempo, with coach Ed Pellot-Rosa going deep into the bench early and often (11 of 12 players scored in the game). Gibraltar chipped away at the lead in the second and Cayman led 47-39 at the half.

The boys from the Caribbean opened up a wide margin in the third but failed to slam the door shut as Gibraltar steadily chipped away at the lead, capitalizing on Cayman’s turnovers. Not only was the deficit erased by the end of the period, Gibraltar led 65-64 after the third quarter.

Though Gibraltar were spurred on by other athletes who were on hand to cheer on their island mates, a few locals were visibly impressed by Cayman’s stylish play and were vocal in their support from the stands.

An alley-hoop slam by Samuel O’Garro for two of his 24 points on the assist by Jorge Ebanks (team-high 27 points) put Cayman up 71-68 and the teams traded buckets through the fourth quarter. Gibraltar edged ahead 79-78 with 3:38 left on the clock.

Cayman led 86-84 with less than a minute left in regulation but Gibraltar tied it with 46.1 seconds to go. A shot clock violation by Cayman with 23.5 seconds left gave Gibraltar the ball for a potential game-winning possession but were denied when NiiAkwei General-Vanderpuije blocked a perimeter attempt as time expired to force overtime with the scores locked 86-86.

There was no separating the teams after the initial OT period, which ended 95-95. Gibraltar held a 105-103 lead into the final minute but Jake Whittaker hit a pair of free throws to tie the game with 41.7 seconds remaining.

Gibraltar, though would take the lead extend the lead inside the final 10 seconds of play and held on for a 108-105 win.

The next game for the Cayman Islands is versus Isle of Man on Monday and they will need a win to stay alive for a chance to play in the quarterfinals. Their final group game is against Isle of Wight on Tuesday.

The national women’s team had their opening game against Gibraltar postponed. They will face Gotland on Monday.

See raw footage of the OT periods below:

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