by RENALDO DORSETT
An 18 point lead was trimmed to just two with 1:04 left to play, but the Bahamas’ could not complete the comeback attempt as they fell to 1-2 at the Centrobasket Championships.
Tehran Cox’s layup made the score 79-77, but untimely turnovers from the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic shooting 6-7 from the free throw line down the stretch would eventually seal their 87-80 win at the Roberto Duran Arena.
The Bahamas shot just 48 percent (12-25) from the free throw line and 28 percent from three.
The DR would eventual have more free throw makes (28-43 for 61 percent) than the Bahamas would have attempts.
David Nesbitt came off the bench to score a team high 18 points and grab five rebounds. Leon Cooper also came off the bench to finish with 16 while Tehran Cos scored 14.
Able Joseph scored nine and Deandre Ayton finishe with six points and 15 rebounds.
Victor Liz led the Dominican Republic with a game high 23 points and six rebounds.
The team has played from behind in both losses, which Nesbitt credits to a lack of efficiency.
“Its a culture we’re starting to cultivate and I really don’t like it. We just can’t stay in the game mentally for 40 minutes and its just disappointing. As guys continue to get better as these young guys come up next maybe we can fix this problem.,” he said, “We got a little bit excited and once again we had mental breakdowns late in the game, missed free throws, silly turnovers, bad communication on defence. These are the little things winning teams do on defence and we just haven’t figured it out yet.”
The DR went ahead 58-40 late in the third on a three pointer from Liz and they took a 66-54 lead into the fourth.
Ayton, who was held scoreless for the first three quarters, scored six consecutive to bring the Bahamas within two for the first time since the first quarter, 73-71.
“It’s our start that gets us. We start off a little slow. We just need to pick it up at the start of the game. In the first quarter we have to dig in defensively and just make layups,” Cooper said, “Our free throw percentage was poor, if we could get to 75-80 percent we could have won this game easily. It just came down to crucial free throws. The mindset for the starters has to be to start with a certain tempo and the bench when we come in we have to maintain or even elevate that.”
The Bahamas has Wednesday off, but returns to the court at 1:45pm Thursday when they take on tournament favourite Mexico.
“We need energy,” Assistant Coach Kevin Johnson said, “The Dominican Republic came out with energy we didn’t have but this team was resilient. We were in it to win it but numbers don’t lie. We missed far too many layups and far too many free throws and we need to handle the ball better. We beat ourselves”