by RENALDO DORSETT
In a game they had to have, the Bahamas men’s national team rebounded from an opening day loss and evened their record at the 2016 Centrobasket tournament.
Every member of team Bahamas scored in a lopsided 82-58 win in their second game of the tournament hosted at the Roberto Duran Arena in Panama.
Deandre Ayton finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and five blocks to lead the Bahamas while Able Joseph added 15 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Tehran Cox and David Nesbitt each finished with eight points while Kentwan Smith added seven.
Leon Cooper and Michael Carey each chipped in with six points.
Daniel Simmons led Costa Rica with 13 points and Carlos Quesada added 10.
With Joseph and Smith inserted into the starting lineup against Costa Rica, the Bahamas got off to a much better start than they did in game one where they opened the game with four straight turnovers.
Kino Burrows made a floater to cap a 12-0 run for the Bahamas early in the first quarter. David Nesbitt made the first three of the game for the Bahamas as they took a 22-2 lead and limited Costa Rica to just two field goals in the period. They led 27-4 at the end of the first.
Costa Rica went on a 16-8 run in the second quarter and pulled to within 13 as the Bahamas missed 10 straight field goals. D’Shon Taylor would end the drought for team Bahamas with a three pointer and they eventually took a 40-25 lead into the half.
The Bahamas opened the third quarter shooting 4-6 from the field, including three pointers from Smith and Joseph. The free throw shooting woes for team Bahamas continued in the quarter, but Costa Rica failed to take advantage. Costa Rica would get within 13 and eventually took a 60-43 lead into the fourth.
The Bahamas regained a 20 point lead in the fourth when Cox made a midrange jumper to make the score 65-45 with 7:28 left to play. Costa Rica outscored the Bahamas 39-33 over the course of the second and third quarters, but the 27-4 deficit from the first was too much to overcome.
Ayton and Joseph have led the Bahamas in nearly all statistical categories thus far. Ayton is averaging 17.5 points and 10 rebounds and two blocks per game. He also has an efficiency rate of 20.5 per game.
“We’re just trying to win it all. We’re just trying to play with a lot of pride every game, putting the country on our back. We just want to come out and play with heart on both ends of the floor,” Ayton said, “It’s a good experience, [The tournament] it’s very physical, you just have to adapt to it and you just have to keep fighting. Everyone’s fighting for their country and that just gives me the motivation to keep going.”
Joseph is averaging 12.5 points, leads the team with six assists and 2.5 steals per game. His efficiency rating is at 19.5.
“I’m feeling very focused. Once I’m focused on that defence, defence brings my offence. I’m a scorer, but I know to stay on the floor I have to play defence,” Joseph said, “Coach just tells me to make it difficult on the point guard, deny him the ball and the offence will come. If we play defence we’ll keep winning.”
The Bahamas shot 55 percent from the field while limiting Costa Rica to 32 percent. Despite the dominant win, the Bahamas has improvements to make if they wish to advance in the tournament. They shot just 51 percent (18-35) from the free throw line, 18 percent from beyond the arch but still registered 19 turnovers.
For the second consecutive game, they dominated the boards with a 59-37 advantage and scored 18 fast break points.
The Bahamas will face the Dominican Republic Wednesday at 6:45 pm.