The Halifax Rainmen gave the Puerto Rico Capitanes their toughest test yet, but fell just short.
The Rainmen slugged it out with the best team in the Premier Basketball League on Thursday night in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, but saw their five-game winning streak come to an abrupt halt with a 108-101 loss to the unbeaten Capitanes.
It matched the 7-0 Capitanes’ smallest margin of victory all year.
“It was a four-minute basketball game and we couldn’t get the stops that were required,” said Rainmen head coach Les Berry. “They executed well in crunch time and we were unsuccessful in our efforts to do a better job defensively.”
The Rainmen, who were without star Eric Crookshank, received a tremendous spark from their bench once again, staying in the game in the second half with a game-high 24 points from Jevohn Shepherd and 20 from Adris DeLeon.
They led 90-86 with 6:30 remaining but the Capitanes grabbed the lead a minute later. It was a two-point game until the final 92 seconds, when the Capitanes stole the ball from Gary Ervin and scored on a fast break to make it 103-99. Halifax was forced to foul and Puerto Rico widened the gap.
“It was a close game right down until the last minute and we just didn’t execute defensively,” Berry said.
One bright spot was continued strong play from Halifax’s bench. Shepherd and DeLeon, among others, pulled them back from a 13-point deficit early in the second half.
“Our bench is playing unbelievable,” Berry said. “They deserve more playing time. That’s the problem. We’ve got to find that energy from our starters in crunch time.”
The Rainmen, 5-2, have another big test on Sunday. The unbeaten Rochester RazorSharks (5-0) — winners of two straight PBL titles — visit the Metro Centre at 2 p.m.
“What a week,” Berry said. “We get to test ourselves again against another quality opponent, and someone we have to beat if we want to be a championship team in this league.”