10 December, 2021
10 April, 2022
Game Report
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Stingers close group stage with win, Real Esteli advances

CALGARY (Canada) - Stingers managed to go 2-0 in front of their home crowd in an 88-79 win over Real Esteli at Winsport Arena in Calgary.

In a must-win game for Stingers, they managed to fluster Esteli and separate themselves by 8 points to end the first quarter, holding Jezreel De Jesus to just 2 points in the quarter and allowed only 4 from Ismael Romero, though Romero was a presence on the boards with 5 rebounds.

Despite holding leads as large as 12 points at times, largely in part due to a full team effort with seven players getting on the scoreboard, Stingers allowed Esteli to creep back in the second half of the quarter.

Refusing to take their foot off the gas, back-to-back 3-pointers from Jaylen Babb Harrison put Stingers back in front by 12 within the first minute of the second quarter.

 Murphy Burnatowski’s hot hand from beyond the arc gave Stingers their largest lead of the game of 15 points, while playing high pressure defense kept Esteli from finding the rim for over two minutes in the second quarter.

Just like they had done to Cangrejeros the night before, Stingers continued to dominant their opponent from the 3-point line and led by 19 after Burnatowski and Malcolm Duvivier hit back-to-back triples.

While Esteli managed to cut the lead down to 16 as Romero started to find a groove offensively, they couldn’t contain Duvivier or Burnatowski – who were both in double digit scoring by the half – or stop Jordan Baker on the defensive boards.

“With Jordan especially, he’s easy to play with because he’s so unselfish, but I have a familiar background with most of the guys, I knew that we have versatile kinda like with Trav [Daniels], we have big guys, we have some small guys and some medium sized guys,” said Stingers head coach Jermaine Small.

Despite playing 16 minutes in the half, Stingers were able to hold offensive power De Jesus to just 4 points and forced him to foul, making him a non-factor, though Renaldo Balkman and Javier Mojica stepped up in his absence with 6 and 5 points respectively.

While the third quarter saw a resurgence for Esteli and a more balanced attack on both sides of the ball, as Alexander Franklin was Esteli’s lead scoring machine this time around while Stingers continued to rotate the load as seven players had 6 points or more.

 Though Esteli trailed by 14 heading into the final 10 minutes of play, Stingers needed a large win margin to be able to move onto the Final 8 which would be a 20-plus point task while also stopping Esteli’s new-found momentum.

In the first minute of the fourth quarter Esteli managed to cut the lead back down to 10, refusing to go down without a fight while also causing bad turnovers on Stingers while they panicked at their dwindling lead.

Stingers kept up their intensity on offense, with Jean-Victor Mukama adding to the charge of Burnatowski, Baker and Duvivier, but Mojica, Romero and Franklin all managed to score into double digits – with Romero recording a double-double – just over halfway through the final quarter.

With three minutes to play Esteli had cut the lead to single digits, trading baskets back and forth for the final two minutes of play, but Stingers managed to hang on for the win though they could not advance to the Final 8 on points differential.

Six Stingers players finished with 10 or more points as Baker finished with a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds including 10 defensively, while Mukama led the team with 17 points

“When you have good leadership in Jones and Baker, everyone has kind of filled in a role and I thought that was very helpful,” said Small.

“I thought just the overall morale this week was really, really good – at the end of the day the guy on my left [Baker] is always going to be a big part of what we do, and wherever he is and I am we’re going to find a way to win and do it together.”

Romero led Esteli with a 22-point, 12-rebound double-double including 11 rebounds on 60 percent shooting, being a leader in Esteli’s almost comeback for the win and to close the gap to move into the Final 8 along with Cangrejeros from Group A.