#By BRENT STUBBS
#Senior Sports Reporter
#ON opening night when they didn’t receive their New Providence Basketball Association men’s championship rings, the Discount Distributors Rockets took their frustration out on the runners-up Commonwealth Bank Giants.
#And while they were awarded their division II championship trophies, the Your Essential Store (YERS) Giants knocked off their arch-rivals Produce Express Rockets in the opening game played in the twin bill on Saturday night.
#Before a fairly good crowd inside the AF Adderley Gymnasium, both games were interrupted as a result of the leaky roof as the pouring rain came down on the outside. But that didn’t prevent the two championship teams from shining.
#The Rockets, who were hoping to show off their championship rings that are awarded only to the division one teams, blasted the Giants 105-78 and the Giants, in displaying their championship trophies, knocked off the Rockets 96-76.
#Rockets 105, Giants 78
#For three quarters, the game was relatively close, but once they got into the fourth quarter, Discount Distributors Liquors continued to apply the pressure, turning a 76-68 lead into a lopsided affair.
#The Rockets, adding some more firepower to their line-up, had four players in double figures, led by two members of the recent men’s national basketball team in Abel Joseph with 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists and Livingstone Munnings with 20 points, nine rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
#Christoff Stuart had 13 points, three assists and two rebounds, Cordero Pinder helped out with 10 points, three rebounds and two assists, Bertrum Minns and Dion McPhee both had eight points with six and four rebounds respectively.
#Devon Ferguson added seven, Ryan Turnquest six, Crispin Gibson five and although he only scored four points, Roosevelt ‘Chicken’ Whylly pulled down 10 rebounds with eight assists.
#“If I knew we were not going to get our rings, I wasn’t coming out for this game,” said Rebels’ head coach Deven Johnson.
#“Since we didn’t get the rings, we took it out on the Giants. It started off a bit rough, but we made some defensive adjustments in the second half and we came out with a huge win.”
#The Giants actually opened up a 30-23 margin at the end of the first and they held onto a 56-45 advantage at the half. But the Rockets came storming back in the third and the Giants didn’t have any answer for their attack.
#“We feel good about this team. We moved up a few pieces from our division II team and brought in one or two players from other team, so we feel good about our chances this year,” said Johnson, who is assisted by Moses Johnson. “We feel we can defend our title this year.”
#Michael ‘Ferley’ Bain had a game high 22 points, but after landing awkwardly on his hip late in the third quarter, he left the game in the early stages of the fourth and didn’t return.
#He finished with four rebounds, three assists and one block.
#Dylan Musgrove, the most valuable player from their division II Giants team, made his debut in division one with 18 points, four rebounds, three assists and as many steals.
#Both Eugene Bain, with seven rebounds, and Christoff McKenzie contributed 11 points and Salathiel ‘Donkey’ Dean had 10 points and five rebounds.
#“As much as we wanted to compete, we were challenged with injuries, but the guys did the best they could under the circumstances,” said Giants’ coach Perry Thompson Sr. “Once we can get everybody back healthy and on the floor, you will see the real Giants team.”
#The Giants were outrebounded 57-44 and they made 19 turnovers, compared to 18 by the Rockets.
#Giants 96, Rockets 76
#After posting a 17-10 lead after the first quarter, Your Essential Store stayed ahead every quarter, going up 43-35 at the half and 64-54 after three periods and they cruised in the fourth.
#Every challenge that Produce Express mounted, including a two-point deficit in the second quarter, YERS had an answer as they stamped their approval on the game, despite missing a couple players.
#Brandon Strachan was solid as a rock as he netted a game high 28 points with 13 rebounds and six steals to pace the Giants.
#Edward Williams had 13 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks, Kirklyn Farrington also had 13 points with four rebounds and four assists.
#Cormado Seymour followed with 12 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals, Kenvon Farrington had 11 points with eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals and both Simar Rolle and Toupetue Cartwright chipped in with seven points.
#“We got some new pieces, but we were small tonight with two 6-8 and a 6-6, so we had to play much harder,” said Giants’ coach Mark Hanna. “I feel we did very good. Next game, we will have a better game.”
#Hanna said they made the necessary adjustments in the second half as they limited Produce Express three-point shooting and they also rebounded much better as they started cooking on all cylinders.
#“For our first game out, I was disappointed,” said Express coach Barry Carter.
#“We had too many turnovers and we made a lot of mistakes in transition. There’s a lot of things we have to work in practice. Once we work on those things, we will be alright.”
#Johnacy Augustin led the Produce Express with 13 points and seven rebounds.
#Rumalo Ellis and Maleak Johnson, with four rebounds apiece, and Anthony Williams all had 11 points. Randy Blanfort had 10 points and seven rebounds and Tyrell Butler and Jefferson Oliver both had eight points.
#The Giants held a slim 59-58 advantage in rebounds and only made 19 turnovers while Rebels had a total of 30, which made the difference. They also lost Maleak Johnson to five fouls with about five minutes left in the game. He was an impact player on both ends of the court.