Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
Defending champions Urban Knights are faced with a do-or-die clash to defend their title against Javon Bailey and the Spanish Town Spartans, in a game-three decider of the Flow National Basketball League best-of-three finals, at the National Arena, today, starting at 7 p.m.
Today's match is expected to be another thrilling encounter. Following a 77-75 triple overtime game-one defeat, the Spartans came storming back in game two, clamping down defensively by crashing the boards and deploying quick double teams to force turnovers from the Knights, whom they defeated 51-46 on to level the series.
The Spartans, the reigning Southern and Mid-season champions, will be looking for a similar defensive effort in tonight's crucial clash, while for the Knights, finding ways to free their top-scorer Omar Barnes will be crucial.
Barnes, who netted 14 points in Tuesday night's defeat, is expected to receive valuable support from Oneil Mundle and Kwame Lawrence, who netted 12 points and eight points, respectively. They are expected to get good support from captain Fernando Young and Dave Blackwood.
While confident, Knights' coach Oneil Brown believes his team has to be careful.
"We have to convert from the free-throw line and stop the Spartans' penetration in the lane. I think that once we do that, then we should be good in game three," said Brown.
'We can do it'
He added: "We know that game three is going to be close, but I think that we have depth and the experience to pull it off on Thursday."
Reflecting on his team's performance on Tuesday, Brown said: "We didn't execute ... because there was a lot of individual effort from our players instead of a team one.
"Spartans are not going to go away and they are going to fight to the end, but we had a chance to close out the series and threw it away."
Brown's opposite number, Calvin Martin, said his team will be going all out for victory.
"We have to attack them some more because I still think we were shooting too much from outside," said Martin.
"I just want my team to be composed and to execute. We may have to take game three down to a walk and see what we can do against this Urban Knights team," he said.
Looking back on his team's exciting game-two win, Martin said: "It wasn't a great game from us, but I think that we just did enough to win. I think both teams broke down in the fourth quarter, but we made some crucial baskets down the stretch and we were also a bit lucky too."
Bailey, who scored eight points and dished out seven assists in game one, is expected to receive support from Christopher Jennings, who added 13 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.