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Hummingbirds, Spurs set for massive BEL clash

Published:Friday | November 23, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Hummingbirds captain Shanice Beckford
Spurs shooter Annakay Griffiths

Kingston Hummingbirds and Manchester Spurs will be involved in a blockbuster showdown on Netball Jamaica's first triple-header of this season's Berger Elite League, at the Leila Robinson Courts today.

Their game opens the showcase at 5:00 p.m. and will be followed with matches between St. Ann Orchids vs St. James Sharpes at 6:15 p.m. and Clarendon Gaters vs St. Catherine Racers at 7:30 p.m.

The Hummingbirds and Spurs have a host of national players and contested last season's final, which saw the Hummingbirds emerging to secure their second championship in the BEL League, which is in its fifth year.

Both teams have started on a winning note with the Connie Francis-coach Spurs notching impressive 53-35 and 54-40 wins over St. Catherine Racers and St. James Sharpes, respectively.

Hummingbirds won the only game they have played, 47-45 against St. Ann Orchids in a tough season-opener.

The contestants, respectful and wary of each other's strength, are quite optimistic and both predict a close encounter.

"It's a repeat of last year's final. I've looked at both games that they've played, I think they're doing fairly well," noted Kingston Hummingbirds' Roy Pryce, who shares coaching responsibilities with Winston Nevers.

"We played only one game, against the Orchids. It was a very tough game and we came out victorious, so we're looking forward to a very exciting and close game. I think the team, that has the least number of turnovers is going to come out victorious," he added.

The Spurs' Francis has every confidence that a measured performance will bring them victory.

"I think that it'll be a fair contest because our girls believe that they can win and that's what is important. They're not a roll-over and certainly we won't be one," said Francis.

"It will be a tough one. We know that the Kingston Hummingbirds, they're the defending champions. They've won more than one time, we haven't tasted that victory," she noted. "One thing I can tell you our team is no roll-over, I think that we're more than capable of putting on a good show and if we play our cards right we should, or we can win."

Injury kept Hummingbirds captain Shanice Beckford on the bench last week and Pryce hopes the high percentage shooter and her national team-mate, Paula Thompson, will be in the line-up, noting they will be key to their chances.

Others key to the Hummingbirds' hopes are shooters Sabrina Spence and Hasana Williams, along with Abbeygail Linton and Crystal Crawford.

Hummingbirds shooters are expected to face a stern challenge from Spurs defenders Shanika Johnson, the captain, who has been operating well in partnership with Tracy Robinson.

Also, they have been firing at the other end of the court where they have three outstanding shooters in Gezelle Allison, who has won MVP awards in their two games, Annakay Griffiths, the national goal attack who shoots way above average and very accurately, as well as Nicole Dixon, a decent shooter in her own right.

Spurs' mid-court is controlled by national Khadijah Williams and Carlalee Tingling, whose passing and movement adds to their balanced dimension.