New-look Raiders ease to win over Team USA
Plymouth Raiders…107 Team USA Select…73
MARJON Plymouth Raiders opened pre-season with a comfortable 34 point win over Team USA Select at the Pavilions last night.
We saw some good things and we saw some bad things, collectively and individually, from Raiders' new-look roster.
But it remains very early days and Raiders should be all the sharper for last night's contest this Saturday when they continue their pre-season programme at home to Dublin Thunder (7.30pm).
Yesterday's contest was what has turned into an annual pre-season game between Raiders and Team USA Select, who are a touring squad full of American college graduates still without clubs.
Raiders boss Gavin Love gave a run-out to 7ft British centre Liam Potter, 26, who is beginning a week's trial with the BBL club in a bid to win, at the very least, a short-term contract at the Pavilions.
Raiders are short up front after big-man Anthony Rowe was ruled out for the opening two months of the new campaign with a serious left knee problem.
Potter has real pedigree and has previous BBL experience with Leicester Raiders, but last season, more impressively, helped Prievidza win the league title in Slovakia's top-flight.
Potter was born and raised in Grimsby, Lincolnshire, and averaged 5.2 points and 4.7 rebounds in 13 minutes per game last year.
He is entering his third season in professional basketball.
USA Select led a scrappy opening quarter 12-10 before Raiders, guilty of not looking after the ball at times early on, really found some rhythm and pieced together a 24-4 run to open up a comfortable 18-point – 34-16 –gap.
Centre Matt Schneck sparked it with back-to-back baskets inside to put Raiders 14-12 up before guard Michael Ojo hit a couple of threes, the second from the left corner on Jeremy Bell's assist to extend Raiders' lead to eight points – 22-14.
Point-guard Bell looked sharp and started alongside Ojo in Raiders' backcourt behind a frontline of small-forward Colin O'Reilly, power-forward Javarris Barnett and Schneck.
O'Reilly hit an open three from the right wing to make it 29-16 early in the second before Bell buried one beautifully in transition from the same spot to push the gap to 16 points.
Potter was on court at centre at this point and was a presence at the defensive end for Raiders, anchoring Raiders' backline and blocking a couple of shots.
The game, if the truth be told, then went into its shell and Raiders and their opponents traded baskets for the rest of the first half and led by 58-37 at half-time.
Barnett added a basket on the counter early in the third to stretch the gap to 30 points – 73-43 – on a class bounced assist from O'Reilly.
Potter looked sharper after half-time and blocked shots at will and with real aggression.