Ho'okele Staff | Jul 14, 2012
The run-and-gun USS Nimitz (CVN 68) basketball team held USS Reuben James (FFG 57) without a point for the first five minutes of play July 5 and raced away to a 52-21 victory in the championship final of the RIMPAC Basketball Tournament at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Fitness Center.
Behind the leadership of point guard Ship’s Serviceman 3rd Class Jared Fears, the Nimitz unleashed a baseline-to-baseline attack to take a 17-5 lead in the first few minutes of play before storming into halftime with a 31-8 advantage.
Among the big-time contributors for Nimitz in the first half were Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) Airman Jacquez Hughes with eight points and Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Ernest Williams, who pumped in 14 points with two three-pointers and a perfect two-for-two at the line.
The team even had excellent bench support from several players including Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Airman Jordon Riggins, who stepped with a huge splashdown from beyond the three-point arch that gave Nimitz a 12-point lead with 6:40 remaining in the first half.
Williams, who went on to score a game-high 20 points, said that speed was the main reason for the team’s success against Reuben James.
“It was easy because we play fast. We don’t slow down the game,” Williams said. “Pretty much we’re just trying to make sure we got every man covered. If we get the chance, we go after the ball. If we get the steal, more than likely, we’ll get the easy two points.”
Fears said that the constant pressure of the Nimitz makes it hard for the team’s opponents to come back once they fall behind.
The swift point guard accounted for only six points throughout the game, but his court leadership and vision triggered the team’s frenzied assault.
“All we’ve done every time we’ve played is run,” Fears explained. “Every team we play against, we want to speed the game up and that starts with me. I’ve got to keep everybody fast paced, so I’ve got to keep fast paced.”
The team’s transition game also translated into a tough man-toman defense that held Reuben James without a point until the 11:10 mark in the first half, when Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class John Clark sank one of two free throws.
In the first half, the Reuben James was held to only two field goals, a lay-up and trey from Operations Specialist Seaman Akeviye Swain, and a total of eight points.
Things didn’t get much better for Reuben James in the second half as the team came out of the break even colder. This time Reuben James didn’t get a basket until the 9:35 mark, a shot by Swain, in the second half.
Williams said that once his team began to feel Reuben James run out of gas, he and his teammates knew it was time to finish off the game.
“Once they get tied, seems like we catch our second wind,” Williams said. “We keep the pressure on the whole game. Until the clock hits triple zeros in the fourth quarter, we got pressure. We just wanted to take this game out and take it out early.”
Clark, who scored all of his four points from the charity stripe, said that although the team had just a short turnaround from its tough semifinal matchup offered no excuses.
“It took our legs out a little bit, but that (Nimitz) was just a better team today,” Williams admitted. “It was just one of those days. I mean the ball just wasn’t falling today. All we can do is get better and come back the next time. Hope we can take it then.”
After making it look so easy in the first RIMPAC Basketball Tournament, Fears said that the Nimitz will be ready to defend their title in the second tourney, which will be held when the ships return from exercises in early August.
“We’re definitely ready,” Fears promised. “Just do the same thing and continue to hoop. That’s it.”
Category: Life & Leisure