Men’s basketball |24 July 2019
Seychelles exit on heart-breaking buzzer-beater shot
The men’s basketball selection yesterday exited the 10th Indian Ocean Islands Games in the most painful manner when they lost their second group match 62-64 against Reunion on a buzzer-beater shot with three seconds remaining to play.
It was Mickael Var who gave Reunion the last-minute victory through a 3-pointer, eliminating the hope of coach Dominic Pillay to guide Seychelles through to the second round.
Compared to their first match against Madagascar on Saturday, the Seychelles selection led by captain Dave Roseline were a totally revamped team, showing great improvement in their game, especially in defence.
They managed to contain the Reunion team, limiting them to only five points after four minutes of play.
From a 0-5 deficit, they managed to climb back to close in on Reunion and when the score read 11-6 in favour of Reunion, a 3-pointer from Alao Solomon reduced it to 11-9, before two free throws from Andrew Rath tied the score at 11 apiece.
Despite increasing their offence, Seychelles failed to capitalise on easy chances, especially when Reunion were in foul trouble, the Seychellois player missed several free throws which could have been significant come crunch time.
Nevertheless, Seychelles maintained the pressure and gained a 12-11 lead.
Reunion managed to score two more points, before Damien Gara scored a 3-pointer to give them a 16-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the tempo of the match rose with both teams exchanging baskets on every offence.
But, again the Seychellois players were still missing free throws, while Reunion kept scoring at every given occasion.
Seychelles managed to lead 29-24 before Loïc Lauratet reduced it to 29-27 with another 3-pointer.
The boys of coach Dominic Pillay were stuck on 29, while Reunion added four more points to lead 31-29 at the end of the first half.
Seychelles started the third quarter well, levelling the score at 31-31 before taking a 39-36 lead. With more experienced players, Reunion quickly closed the gap, before they levelled the match at 42-42.
They scored nine more points while Seychelles were stuck on 42, ending the third quarter 51-42 in their favour and at that point, Seychelles lost Amadou Sylla after he committed his fifth personal foul.
The last quarter was contested like a final with both teams displaying some thrilling basketball, keeping the fans at the Phoenix Gymnasium on the edge of their seats.
The match changed in the last minute, precisely with 10 seconds remaining to play, where Reunion were leading 60-59.
At that point, coach Pillay asked for a time-out, giving his final instructions and upon their return on the court, Seychelles came up with a game plan which was well executed by Timmy Adam through a 3-pointer, giving Seychelles a 62-61 lead with only 3.11 seconds remaining.
A win and qualification were already in sight, but unexpectedly, a 3-pointer from Mickael Var on the buzzer surprised everyone, giving Reunion a 64-62 lead and a place in the semifinal.
Abdel Sylla was Seychelles’ top scorer with 15 points.
Seychelles will play their last group match against Maldives today and a win will just cement yesterday’s good performance, but the result will not be significant as they are already out of the competition.
Coach Dominic Pillay’s reaction: “I am very disappointed to have lost the match with three seconds remaining, but this is basketball and the match is never over until the referee blows his whistle. I would like to thank and congratulate all the players who have today shown that they can play basketball. I thank them for their commitment and devotion for the whole 40 minutes and like I said, it is basketball and whoever deserved to win, won the match. Compared to the first match, other than the simple touch-ups, today it was purely the devotion and commitment of the players and their will to play for the country. We will be taking our last match with the same approach, even if we are out of the competition.”
Team Seychelles: Steven André, Kris André, Andrew Rath, Khris Bouchereau, Dave Roseline (captain), Alao Solomon, Faizel Naiken, Timmy Adam, Amadou Sylla, Abdel Sylla, Stan Tomking and Jean-Philip Esparon. Dominic Pillay (head coach), Gregoire Scholastique (assistant coach).
Text and photo Roland Duval in Mauritius