SURGING PIRANHAS MOVE CLOSER TO PLAYOFF SPOT
Pilarte-led Piranhas dismantle the Davie Stars 99-90
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A possible ABL playoff spot was on the line Saturday afternoon at the Berean Christian gymnasium, as the host Palm Beach Piranhas took on arguably the league's most talented team, the Davie Stars. Boasting a roster loaded with former high major NCAA Division I talent, the Stars seemed positioned to reclaim their first place Tropics Conference lead, led by a trio of talented players who all season long have been amongst the league leaders in scoring and rebounding.
Early on, the home team had no answer for former Big East Conference and Seton Hall standout Robert Mitchell. The long rangy shooting guard proved a tough match-up all day for the Piranhas, scoring 30 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. The small Palm Beach backcourt had no answer for Mitchell, who mixed his well schooled post game with a deadly perimeter shot to lead all scorers.
As the game progressed, the fans were treated to a hardwood battle not often seen in minor league basketball. Perhaps for the first time in recent minor league basketball history, a pair of 7 foot former Divison I-A NBA draft prospects waged war in the paint. For the Stars, 7 foot Center Charles Okwandu, who played collegiately for Jim Calhoun at the University of Connecticut, faced off against former Houston Cougar, Anwar Ferguson, who led the nation in blocked shots. In this battle of legitimate NBA post men, Ferguson outplayed Okwandu, scoring 19 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and adding to his league leading blocked shot total with 5 blocks. Okwandu, a former NBA D-League player, scored 12 points and grabbed 9 rebounds.
Despite the marquee matchup of Okwandu and Ferguson, the difference in this game was the lethal Palm Beach backcourt combination of Wilson Pilarte and Joe Davis. As they have all season long, Pilarte and Davis shot the deep ball efficiently and proved physically too much for the slower Davie guards. Pilarte led the way for the Piranhas with 29 points, while Davis added 23 points and 5 rebounds.
With their third consecutive win, Palm Beach positioned themselves for a legitimate run at the ABL Final Four. Though both Davie and Palm Beach boast identical records, Palm Beach has now defeated the Davie Stars two times, catapulting them to second place in the ABL's Tropics Conference for the first time this season.
In attendance at the game was Baltimore Raven Superbowl Champion Anquan Boldin, a Palm Beach native, who was honored at half time.