The Sarnians pulled away impressively in the final quarter of a pulsating and often fiery quarter-final against Menorca at Tercentenary Hall, having trailed by two going into the final stanza, to win 92-78.
It was an outstanding 10 minutes from Adam Farish’s men who, having built some momentum in the third quarter after an error-strewn first half, combined passion with composure.
‘They are a good side, but the way we are playing at the moment, on another day we beat those guys comfortably,’ Farish said.
‘We could have had a healthy lead at half-time, we could have run some of our reserves a bit more, but the truth is we were just making so many fundamental errors in the first half – passing, turnovers, jumping in the air to make passes which were then picked off.
‘The bonus is we were saying “guys, cut those out and we are going to be fine”. Of course, by then you’ve already had a half of making errors and you’ve got to try and make your way into a game where they are playing well.
‘But the heart and spirit of the guys – we just never doubted that we were going to come back. Once we got level and got the measure of them, going into the fourth they knew we had the run.
‘The guys took confidence from that, started making free-throws – we haven’t done that all tournament – just shows the bottle that these guys have.
‘They are crunch time players now and that’s the difference from previous Island Games. We are guaranteed a shot at a medal now.’
On the individual front, there were typically big performances from Martin Yabsley and Agris Dulbinskis, but the coolness under pressure and execution of Andrejs Vaganovs down the stretch really caught the eye.
‘He is that quiet guy who just goes around being influential. He so strong and that was the difference. He was the right man to be in there at that time saying “give me the ball, they’re not taking it off me, I’ll just dictate things”,’ said Farish who also pointed to the contribution of Matt Sawbridge.
‘Hoops [Jason Hooper] picked up his fourth foul early in the second half and having to sit for half the game, Sawby was just immense for us today. We sometimes take Hoops for granted, but the fact we’ve got Sawby to come in and do that job when Jason has to sit is huge.’
The Cayman Islands are next up for Guernsey in today’s semi-finals.
‘We were buzzing from yesterday, we will be buzzing from today, let’s get at these show ponies and see what we can do,’ Farish added with a massive grin.
On the neighbouring caught, Guernsey women’s handed out a 52-14 hammering to Jersey to progress to the fifth-place play-off, which will also be against Cayman.
‘We played really well today – hit some shots, were really tough on defensive and just blew it out of the system really,’ said coach Pat Ogier.
‘We are really excited about playing Cayman tomorrow.’