The Tijuana Zonkeys just had a four-game road trip, after eight days of no games.
A lot changed in the eight-day break as the point guard, Sean Gardner, is no longer a part of the team. Gardner seemed to fit well with the team and seemed happy in Tijuana, so it is unclear why the American is no longer with the Striped Donkeys. David Abramowitz found a quick replacement for Gardner in Dalante Donnell Dunkley. Luis Ramirez was also injured before the first series in Novalato, which could have been a big blow to the team, but fortunately did not affect them much.
The Zonkeys played the four-game road trip in the state of Sinaloa, first visiting the Garra Canera de Novalato. Even with an incomplete squad, the ‘Burro-Zebras’ managed to win both games in Novalato. The border city side took the first game by a slim score of 92-91. The Zonkeys were down by a score of 27-24 after the first quarter, but after that managed to take control of the game. The main performers in the first game of the two-game series turned out to be the veterans, Marcus Morrison and Trayvon Lathan. The captain, Morrison, had the most points in the game with 32, while Lathan had 30 points with nine rebounds and five assists. Leon Gibson III continued to rack up the rebounds as he obtained 12 in the game with nine points and four assists. The win was vital, motivating Tijuana to have a positive road stand, especially with absences within the squad.
The second game in Novalato was a much more dominant performance for the Zonkeys, winning 89-72. San Diego native, Karim Rodriguez, had his best game of the season, netting 20 points with four rebounds and three assists. Rodriguez was lethal from long range, being a perfect 5-for-5 in three-point opportunities. Dalante Dunkley was not great in his second game with the team, only getting four points, still getting adjusted to his new surroundings. The bench was vital in the win, with the youngsters, Jose Carlos Zesati and Cesar Martin Del Campo, having tremendous performances. The bench combined for 23 points, 21 of the points coming from Zesati and Del Campo. The win was monumental and was perhaps the greatest team effort displayed by the Zonkeys all season.
After sweeping Novalato, the Zonkeys moved on to Culiacan for a two-game series to face the Caballeros de Culiacan. The Caballeros are not doing great this season but do have a strong squad and proved to be a menace for the Zonkeys. The Striped Donkeys lost the first game of the series by a score of 98-96. The game was close for 30 minutes, but the home team dominated Tijuana in the fourth quarter. The man with the most points for Tijuana turned out to be Leon Gibson III, who got himself 19 points and, of course, lead the team with seven rebounds. Karim Rodriguez had a decent game, netting 13 points, but was a woeful 2-for-8 from three-point range.
The border city side overall was not impressive from long range, going 9-for-32 collectively. All the missed opportunities could have made a difference in the encounter if they would have been handled differently. The bench was impressive again, Jose Carlos Zesati coming away with 14 points, while Cesar Martin Del Campo got himself eight points with a rebound and three assists. The ‘Burro-Zebras’ did display a solid team effort, but came up short in the game against the team from Sinaloa. The second game of the series in Culiacan, and the last game of the four-game road trip, proved to be a much more positive one.
The Zonkeys won the second game of the series against the Caballeros 87-80. Tijuana was dominant during the whole encounter and prevailed even with the absence of Marcus Morrison in the game. Leon Gibson III had another outstanding performance with 19 points and 10 rebounds. San Diego native, Karim Rodriguez, had another excellent game with 15 points and five rebounds as well. The main contributor for the border city side was, surprisingly, Cesar Martin Del Campo. The youngster had some solid performances during the whole road trip, but really shined in this game. Del Campo finished the game with 21 points and six rebounds in just over 24 minutes of play. The Mexican player was one of the revelations in this road stand and it will be interesting to see if he can keep it up in the following weeks.
The Zonkeys ended up winning three out of the four games and improved to a 10-5 record. Tijuana is now in fourth place in the CIBACOPA with 25 points. For now, the ‘Burro-Zebras’ are five points away from Hermosillo in first place with a game in hand. The Tijuana Zonkeys proved to be a rigid side with a lot of depth in this road stand. David Abramowitz and the Zonkeys will now return to Tijuana for a two-game set against Mazatlán this Tuesday, April 25, and Wednesday, April 26. Vamos Zonkeys!