Men’s hoops coach: ‘pretty scary how good we can be’

Ed Pellot-Rosa coached the men's team at his first Island Games.

The head coach who guided the Cayman Islands national men’s basketball team to their first ever gold medal at the 2017 NatWest Island Games believes there could be more success coming on the court, saying “it’s pretty scary how good we can be”.

Ed Pellot-Rosa spoke to after returning home from Gotland, Sweden where his squad defeated Gibraltar for the top spot in the competition.

“It was pure joy,” he said of the success. After blowing a 19-point lead to Gibraltar in the first group game to lose 108-105 in double overtime, the Cayman team rebounded and never tasted defeat again.

“I knew after the first game, we would have to make adjustments but maintain our up-tempo style of play. The guys stayed focused and maintained their composure,” said Pellot-Rosa, who admitted that he needed to shorten the rotation after giving all 12 players time in the opener.

Pellott-Rosa works on the game plan.

Cayman then steamrolled through their remaining two group games with wins over Isle of Man (112-56) and Isle of Wight (84-58) to book a spot in the quarterfinals. In the knock-out stage, they dominated Jersey 102-40 to set up a showdown with the 2015 champions from the Estonian island of Saaremaa.

“Our toughest match was the semi-final game. I think Saaremaa was the best team there [other than us]. They were stronger than us, they were more fundamentally sound than us but I knew if we kept up the intensity and kept the pressure on them, those guys would wear down,” Pellot-Rosa said.

The Caribbean squad held on for a six-point win (77-71) and a shot at redemption against Gibraltar. “I just tried to compose our guys and not approach the game with a sense of revenge but just to stay true to who we are and play basketball the way we know how,” the coach recalled about the mindset ahead of the gold-medal game.

He said despite the loss earlier in the week, he was confident about the victory because he knew he had the better players and trusted them to deliver when it counted the most.

It was a game featuring two pretty evenly matched teams but with the clock winding down and the ball in the hands of captain Jorge Ebanks, the coach said the situation worked out as drawn up, when Ebanks was able to find De’Andre Simpson for the go-ahead bucket. Then a couple of defensive stops sealed the deal and the gold medal.

Pellot-Rosa said it was pleasing to know that even after the earlier defeat, the players trusted him and assistant coach Duran Whittaker to guide them to the top.

“It’s pretty scary how good we can be. If we start focusing on our fundamentals, our spacing on offence, and keeping guys in front of us on defence, this gold medal is just the beginning,” Pellot-Rosa told

This was the Cayman Islands’ first gold in men’s basketball, having won silver medals in 1999, 2001 and 2003.

Victor ‘Voot’ O’Garro, the technical director for the Cayman Islands Basketball Association, said he was thrilled at how the team played. “They went out to prove how good they have gotten by winning the gold. So, I’m extremely pleased with that,” he said.

O’Garro gave full credit to the coaching staff. “It’s not about the Xs and Os, it’s about people skills. They have shown they have people skills, they could bring players together and make them feel hungry for wanting to win. The players were like brothers and right there, you know you have something to work on. When I saw that, I knew the performance would be good,” he said.

Playing for the Cayman Islands were professionals Jorge Ebanks and Samuel O’Garro, along with Shaad O’Garro, Davion Cotterell, De’Andre Simpson, Jake Whittaker, Joshua Dikau, Arin Taylor, Juawon Ebanks, NiiAkwei General-Vanderpuije, Omari Corbin, and Adam Milburn.

Juawon Ebanks saw limited action after injuring his ACL shortly after entering the first game and was side-lined for the rest of the tournament.

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