Hot Spurs, Hummingbirds in Berger Elite showdown
This season's hot team, Manchester Spurs, and Kingston Hummingbirds will this evening start shooting for the title in game one of the best-of-three finals series of Netball Jamaica's Berger Elite League, at the National Arena at 7:30 p.m.
Both registered contrasting wins in Tuesday night's semi-finals, with preliminary-round winners Manchester Spurs blowing away fourth-place St Catherine Racers
53-37; and Kingston Hummingbirds winning 43-42 in a monumental second-versus-third battle that ended the reign of last season's champions, St Ann Orchids.
The Orchids will now challenge St Catherine Racers in a race for third that begins at 6 p.m., then watch their adversaries fight for the crown. Game Two is set for Saturday, February 3, and Game Three, if necessary, Saturday, February 10.
"These girls are confident. I can't take away their confidence level. Lose, win or draw, they support each other right through the tournament, and I think that they will do extremely well," Manchester Spurs head coach Connie Francis said of her team's mood after their semi-final win.
The Hummingbirds' head coach, Marvette Anderson, also gave her team full backing, with knowledge of opponents that have beaten them in both meetings this season.
Anderson said: "I expect another exciting game. We have strength in our attack, they have strength in their attack. If we can continue to minimise our turnovers, these games will come out on our side."
Commenting on alterations needed to transform past defeats, the Kingston Hummingbirds coach said: "I can't say it any more: We just have to limit our turnovers. In the second game, we were up by 14 and went down losing. That means we'd have turned over the ball several times, so we need to maintain our composure and take care of the ball."
Goal attack Shanice Beckford and centre Paula Thompson are the driving forces for the Hummingbirds, along with goal shooter Sabrina Spence. The latter scored 24 of 26 tries and Beckford 19 of 25 against the Orchids on Tuesday.
"I expected it to be like that. Both teams have players who are very competitive; nobody wants to lose. It's all about getting to the finals. I knew it would go down to the wire. I'm happy that my team ended up winning," declared Anderson.
For St Ann Orchids, Simone Gordon scored 25 of 39 attempts and Thristina Harwood five of seven, while Rebekah Robinson was hot down the stretch but could not pull them out despite netting 12 of 12 tries.
There were no such difficulties for the Spurs, who blasted out to a 15-8 first-quarter lead, had a hiccup in the second, before stepping up several gears over the last half and powered to victory.
Anna-Kay Griffiths, with 34 goals from 41 tries and Giselle Allison, 21 of 27, were the leading scorers for Manchester Spurs.
Tracy-Ann Francis was the main scorer for Racers, netting 29 of 38 attempts.