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Pandi, BlackJacks hold back furious Alliance comeback as Ottawa delivers Montreal’s fifth straight d

Lloyd Pandi Lloyd Pandi - CEBL

Lloyd Pandi scored the game-winning basket on a driving layup through a pair of Montreal defenders as the Ottawa BlackJacks (4-8) managed to hold off a hard-charging Alliance (3-10) in Target Score Time to squeak out a 92-91 win Thursday at The Arena at TD Place.

Pandi, a 6-foot-4 guard from Ottawa, finished Thursday’s contest with a rugged 16 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks.

He played with grit and toughness the entire game, and his efforts were rewarded by BlackJacks head coach James Derouin giving him the ball with the game on the line.

“I just wanted to make a play,” Pandi told sideline reporter Jackie Perez of his game-winning take to the basket. “Coach put the ball in my hand for a reason. If somebody else was open I was gonna spray the ball, or, if I had the lane, I was gonna go to the bucket and that's what I do best.”

The win caps off a successful 2-1 three-game homestand for the BlackJacks, who are desperately trying to chase down the Brampton Honey Badgers for third in the Eastern Conference.

A win is always going to just be a win on paper, but Ottawa made earning Thursday’s one far more adventurous than it had to be.

“We probably just had enough of a cushion going in to hang on, to be honest with you,” said Derouin after the game. “If you love [Target Score] then you enjoyed that, and if you don’t then time runs out and we win by 10. So that’s part of the game here in this league and, luckily, we had just enough cushion to hang on.”

With 4:38 left to play in the fourth quarter, and Target Score Time looming, the BlackJacks held a 14-point lead, 83-69, that was fueled by a 14-5 Ottawa run that saw BlackJacks newcomers Tevin Brown and Shamar Givance contribute with Brown going off for three straight threes and Givance converting on a pretty and-one layup.

“I’m just looking to come out and run through the sets that the coaches give us, and whenever I can get an open shot it’s my job to come here and take them, and that’s what I did tonight,” said Brown, who finished with a BlackJacks team-high 20 points, going 6-for-12 from three-point range.

Ottawa carried a comfortable 83-72 lead when Target Score Time was officially called.

That comfort wouldn’t last long, however, as Alliance guard Jordan Bowden erupted to begin the clock-off period, scoring nine of his game-high 26 points in Target Score Time, including a go-ahead three that put Montreal up 91-90.

Unfortunately for the Alliance that ended up setting up Pandi’s game-winning drive, but Montreal did a lot of good work during Target Score Time, outscoring Ottawa 19-9.

That’s still cold comfort for an Alliance team that’s now dropped five games in a row, and six of their last seven.

Ultimately, as the Championship Weekend host, Montreal will get an opportunity to compete for the CEBL title at the end of the season, but this hasn’t been the momentum-building kind of season that Montreal envisioned.

“We don’t give up,” said Alliance head coach Derrick Alston Jr. “This is a professional sport, this is our job, so I don’t really give out awards for participation. So, we’ve got to get better. But, the guys are fighting, I know they’re giving me everything they’ve got. We’ve just got to figure some things out.”

For the BlackJacks, it wasn’t the prettiest way to win, but the name of the game for them is just finding ways to win and they did that Thursday night.

The new additions of Brown and Givance look like they will give Ottawa a much-needed boost at the guard spots – particularly with Brandon Sampson out with injury – and the twin tower tandem of Zena Edosomwan, whose four rebounds he collected Thursday put him over 250 for his CEBL career in the regular season, and Isaih Moore ensure that at any given time on the floor opponents have to deal with a real load down low.

“When they’re both in the lineup we can kind of use the Dallas Mavericks’ platoon system [with Daniel Gafford and Derrick Lively II] brining in a fresh big over and over again to try to wear the other team down.”

Up Next

There will be no time for the Alliance to lick their wounds as they return home Friday for an encounter with the Winnipeg Sea Bears. Meanwhile, the BlackJacks will open a three-game road trip Saturday against the Niagara River Lions.