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Bailey's brilliance seals clincher for Urban Knights
Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
It took a brilliant fourth quarter performance from Javon Bailey, to guide defending champions Urban Knights to an exciting 62-59 victory over Majesty Gardens and a place in the final of the National Basketball League, on Saturday night at the National Stadium courts.
The Knights won the series 2-1 and and will face newcomers Port Royal Bulls, who recorded a two-nil series victory over Tivoli Wizards in the other semi-final series.
Bailey, a former St Catherine High standout, drained a crucial three-pointer with less than 30 seconds remaining to lead his team to victory.
Earlier, Majesty Gardens capitalised on the Knights' poor defence to take a 15-12 lead at half-time.
However, the Knights came out firing in the second period as they outscored their opponents 20-8, to lead 35-20 at half-time.
Majesty Gardens then introduced their injured star player Kemar McLeish at the start of third period. His injection was significant as his contribution aided the team in cutting the deficit, despite the fact that the Knights still held the lead at the end of the third quarter, 46-39.
The South St Andrew-based team continued to rally in the fourth quarter and tied the game at 58-58 with one minute and 47 seconds left on the clock, much due to Havando Dunn, who came off the bench to nail two three-pointers.
Bailey, who finished the game with 13 points, scored a three-pointer to give his team the lead, one which proved decisive in the end.
Bailey received good support from Omar Barnes with 19 points and Oneil Mundle, who scored 11.
McLeish led his team with 22 points and nine rebounds.
Calvin Martin, head coach of the Knights, said playing disciplined at the crunch proved decisive.
"I think it was a hard-fought battle between two good teams," said Martin. "I believe that the difference was that there was a lot more discipline down the stretch, that's the reason why we won this game."
He added: "We will have to refocus and start playing like how we were playing in the preliminary rounds because a lot of the players are getting carried away."
Ludlow Barker, coach of Majesty Gardens, said his players tried their best.
"A lot of things went wrong for us tonight because we didn't play well in the first half and gave up too many easy baskets to our opponents," said Barker.
"But I think we battled really hard and I must say well done to my players because they really played their hearts out tonight."