Love happy with progress as he prepares for Potter talks
Plymouth Raiders…94 Team USA Select...84
MARJON Plymouth Raiders survived a late scare to finish pre-season 4-0 at the Pavilions yesterday.
Raiders cruised to a classy 57-30 lead late in the first half against Team USA Select, who exploited badly fading home energy levels to slash the deficit to as few as eight, 90-82 late in the fourth quarter.
Raiders were playing their third friendly within 24 hours and exhausted, hit a brick wall mentally and physically at half-time yesterday.
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Point-guard Jeremy Bell took responsibility and, fading away from the basket, stroked home a jump-shot from near the foul line to rebuild the gap to 10 points, 92-82.
Shooting-guard Michael Ojo then suffocated Team USA's Daniel Dixon on the tourists' next possession, forcing him to turn the ball over and, fuelled by the steal, Bell hit a short jump-shot to make it 94-82 and put the outcome beyond doubt.
"The players did as good as a job as they could after half-time. We were exhausted," said Raiders coach Gavin Love.
"I was pretty happy. We're looking better and better, and improving. That's all you can ask."
It's very early days, but Raiders are looking good.
They have two clear weeks ahead of them now on the practice court before they tip-off the new BBL season on Sunday, September 30.
One of the most pressing issues for Love is adding a big-man to bring his core rotation back up to seven players following the loss of Anthony Rowe to a serious knee injury for two months.
British centre Liam Potter, 26, has been on trial at Raiders since last Wednesday.
Love said of the 7ft free agent, who played last season in Slovakia's top division: "Myself and Liam will sit down and see where we're at.
"He's had a few games for us now and we can see what he can and can't do.
"We'll see what decision I make. If it's good for me and good for Liam, we'll put something together."
Potter, who hails from Grimsby, Lincolnshire, said of his few days at Raiders: "I've enjoyed it. It's been good.
"I've been thrown into it here, but they're a great group of guys, I like the coach and I like the style of basketball they play."
Potter, entering his third year in professional basketball, added: "It's a tough job market this year. A lot of guys are still jobless. I'm just grateful for the opportunity to come here.
"We'll see what happens. I'm going to meet with coach and hopefully come up with a plan. I think Plymouth would be a good fit for me."
Ojo hit a three on the right wing on Bell's assist to make it 14-11 against Team USA yesterday and spark an 11-0 Raiders run in the first quarter.
Bell sliced his way to the visitors' rim from the left wing and finished at the cup to make it 16-11.
Bell and Ojo then enjoyed themselves and on a two-on-one completed an alley-oop in transition with Bell throwing up the assist and Ojo throwing down the dunk on the left baseline for the spectacular bucket.
Bell added a lay-up in transition on a great long assist from small-forward Colin O'Reilly to cap the streak and make it 22-11.
Raiders hit Team USA with a second 16-5 run late in the first and early in the second frame to balloon the lead to 20 points, 43-23.
Ojo ignited it, pulling up and hitting a mid-range jump-shot, something he has worked on to add to his game over the summer, to make it 29-18.
Centre Matt Schneck, fuelled by an Ojo steal, then enjoyed a slam-dunk on the break to push the score to 31-18 before O'Reilly neatly crowned the opening frame with a three from the left corner.
Unselfish play, in what could become a great trademark for the 2012/13 Raiders, from Ojo on the right elbow saw him create the space and then feed Bell behind him on the right wing to drill a three and cap the run.
The lead peaked at 27 points, 57-30 on Bell's jump-shot from the right baseline late in the first half.
Points: Bell 38 (14/27 Field-Goals), Ojo 24 (10/19), Schneck 16 (8/11), O'Reilly 10 (4/10), Potter 4 (2/3), Barnett 2 (1/6)
Rebounds: Schneck 10, O'Reilly 7, Barnett/Potter 5
Assists: Bell 8, O'Reilly 7, Lasker 5
Plymouth Raiders…98 Dublin Thunder…72
RAIDERS rookie Javarris Barnett spectacularly cut loose against Dublin Thunder at the Pavilions yesterday morning.
In the second of three friendlies at the weekend, the American power-forward bounced back from shooting 0/8 from the field against Thunder on Saturday night to hit a stunning 38 points.
Barnett finished 15/23 from the floor overall and shot 8/14 three-pointers to lead Raiders to back-to-back wins over the visitors.
Barnett said: "It was fun. I was in the zone!
"I hit my first three in the first quarter, then I missed a couple, but in the second half I had a stretch where I strung some shots together and put two or three down in a row."
Barnett, naturally finding his feet at the club and in professional basketball, added last night: "I couldn't throw a rock into the ocean Saturday night, but I got into my rhythm this morning and I'm a rhythm player.
"Everything comes to me then."
Raiders boss Gavin Love said last night: "Javarris is a rookie and it's all about confidence. He was excellent.
"He was quiet in the second game (against Team USA), but he did play 40 minutes this morning.
"It's a process with a rookie. Javarris has got to get to that consistent level, but he was outstanding this morning."
Raiders led Thunder by six points, 43-37 at half-time yesterday morning before extending the gap to 12, 68-56 heading into the fourth.
They then pulled clear, opening the final frame with a 22-4 run to lead by as many as 30 points, 90-60.
Points: Barnett 38 (15/23 Field-Goals), Ojo 19 (8/12), Schneck 13 (5/5), Potter 9 (3/9), O'Reilly 6 (3/7), Hall 5 (2/5), Bell 4 (2/6), Lasker 4 (2/6)
Rebounds: O'Reilly/Potter 8, Schneck 5
Assists: Bell 10, O'Reilly/Lasker 4