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Articles

In remembrance of Mission Impossible! - Jul 6, 2016


POSTED BY:
ALBERT-LEE YOUNG
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Seven years ago Trinidad & Tobago surprised the top-ranked Puerto Rico with a stunning 97-91 overtime win at the 2010 Centrobasket Championships in Santo Domingo, Dominica Republic. Today is a reflection of that historic performance and those involved.

From the start PR with an experienced line-up of NBA and professional players, which included Carlos Arroyo, Jose Barea and Renaldo Balkman amongst others, controlled the tempo and victory seemed like a stroll in the park. By the third quarter, PR ran up a 63-43 lead with less than 5 minutes remaining. But T&T kept their hopes up dominating the boards through the hard work of co-captains Kibwe Trim/Wilfred Benjamin and Julius Ashby. At the 4:19min mark, Steven Lighter Lewis sparked the gym with an amazing crossover move that sent NBA player Balkman to the floor and a tough lay-up over 7-3 center Peter John Ramon for 3-point play. Lewis was on fire and together with his teammates cut the margin to ten points as T&T eventually finished the period trailing 63-73.

In the fourth quarter, T&T totally took control over Puerto Rico outscoring them 21-11 in the period. In the final two minutes guard Ian Young, who sat for most of the 3rd period, hit a three pointer but Arroyo responded for an 84-79 PR advantage. Next possession Lewis reduced it to 84-81. With seconds ticking away, Benjamin re-bounded a missed Arroyo 3-pointer and outlet to Young who dribbled across the half court to hit the biggest shot of his career sending the game into overtime, 84-84. Then in the final session T&T stunned PR as Lewis continued his dominance giving T&T a close 86-84 lead. Following a back to back duel, Joey Haywood scored a lay-up in the closing minutes to further extend T&T advantage to 93-90. Next play, Ashby came up with a huge block off a three point attempt. Eventually, Young sealed the win on the free throw line hitting both shots as T&T upset high ranking Puerto Rico, 97-91.

Lewis led T&T with 24pts & 6rebs, Trim just missed out of a double-double with 18pts & 9rebs, Young scored 13 while Benjamin added a double, 11pts & 11rebs.

In celebrating, condolences are extended to Brian Manning (who was the then NBFTT President) on the passing his father, former T&T Prime Minister Patrick Manning. Brian has since resigned from basketball and is now focusing on his professional career. The victory is also dedicated in memory of the late Devougn Lamont, who was the team's back-up center/power forward. Devougn sadly passed away on 21st August 2014 while training in France with his team. Gone but not forgotten. RIP Devougn!

Meanwhile, co-captains Kibwe Trim and Wilfred Spongy Benjamin have since retired from playing. Trim recently launched his Dream Chasers Foundation while Benjamin is now married and focusing on his new profession. Both are based in the US. Small forward and three-point shooter Wendell Carter is also retired from playing and enjoying life with his newly-born kids and family in Houston. Shooting-guard Maurice Joseph is now an assistant coach at George Washington University. Joseph was best remembered for his lock-down defense during PR final seconds possession in the game. Point guard Akin Hughes, who was unfortunately injured during the tournament, didn't play since and has a new career in Florida. Point guard Joey Kinghandle Haywood is semi-retired and runs a basketball coaching program in Canada. He is currently contemplating returning to playing professionally next season. Otherwise referred to as Mr. Big Shot, combo guard Young is still plying his trade with distinction in Mexico and Puerto Rico. Power Forward/center Julius Ashby is consistently filling up the stats sheets in the Japanese professional league.

At the domestic level, Lewis came out of a short retirement last year and continues to light-up the court for the Defense Force basketball team. Guard Kurt Coto Christian, who hit an amazing half court shot in the game and defended well against the more experienced NBA players, is still controlling the back court for his home town team, Detour Shak Attack. And, Richard Guiseppi and Kenyatta Alfred are competing with various teams in spite of having new family commitments.

On the technical side former Head Coach Terry Layton, who was released before the game due to medical issues, has successfully recovered and is now working on several basketball projects. Coach Joseph Lenny Guy, who took over the head coach duties for the PR game, has since retired. Coach Mike Terpstra worked as an assistant coach for Oklahoma City Thunder (2013-15). Trainer Mervyn Unks Jackson is currently the head coach for the T&T U16 Boys' team at the 2016 Caribbean Basketball Confederation Championships. While, Assistant trainer Wayne Samuel stills works with T&T Defense Force. As for the manager, Albert Lee Young is still quietly doing his basketball duties despite focusing on a new challenge.

Sadly, T&T has not had a men's team participating at international level since 2010. While, Puerto Rico is currently competing for one of the final spot at the 2016 Rio Olympics with basically the same roster. Best of swishes to Puerto Rico!

Well done T&T, in 2010. The dream still lives on!

  



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