Raiders overcome Glasgow hangover in London victory
MARJON Plymouth Raiders, for the second Sunday on the spin, scored a deserved victory to avoid back-to-back defeats in the BBL Championship.
Yesterday, it was London Lions' turn to pay the price for a Raiders' defeat 24 hours earlier – to Glasgow Rocks – in the double-header weekend of top-flight basketball at the Pavilions.
The previous week, Raiders took their frustrations out on out-classed hosts Durham Wildcats – 113-68 – after Plymouth had lost, unluckily, 83-80 at Leicester Riders.
Saturday night at the Pavilions, though, Raiders were soundly beaten – 97-84 – in the first of their home double by Rocks.
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The Raiders camp had also been rocked with the news Plymouth-born skipper Anthony Rowe had quit the club in a row over a new contract.
Rowe, 27, has signed for Leicester and is scheduled to face his former team-mates – at home – shortly before the Christmas holidays.
But Raiders, to their credit, produced an accomplished, if not pitch perfect performance against a Lions side who did not know when they were beaten.
Which is strange given the resilient Londoners lost for the second time to Plymouth this season, yesterday.
In the opening weeks of the BBL season on September 30, Lions were tamed 108-86 at the Pavilions by Raiders, who scored the same number of points yesterday, only for the visitors to improve theirs by 12.
Raiders won every quarter and looked to be in cruise control, easing through the gears in a match that was the veritable curate's egg – good in parts but in others just ordinary.
The match provided evidence of the class acts in both squads with eye-catching passing and scoring, while also slipping into scruffy phases with passes going astray and easy options going begging.
Irish forward Colin O'Reilly top scored with 29 points for Raiders with guard Orlan Jackman matching the former's tally for Lions.
The double-digit scoring was distributed evenly through the Raiders' roster with Javarris Barnett edging top dog Jeremy Bell into third place on the charts.
Barnett finished on 24 points, three more than his fellow American, the brilliant guard, Bell.
Following Jackman on the visitors' charts were Tayo Ogedengbe with 24 points and the ever-dangerous duo of Mike Martin and Jordan Spencer, who both returned 12 points apiece, as Raiders almost found to their cost.
London, towards the end of the fourth quarter, narrowed the gap to single figures after trailing by as many 19 points earlier in the contest.
In fact, the only stage in the match when home fans might have become nervous was when three-pointers from Spencer and Ogedengbe suddenly trimmed what had appeared a virtually uncatchable lead for Raiders.
Love, though, praised his players for their team work and also the opposition for their never-say-die attitude which kept Raiders on their toes and the fans, if not on the edge of their seats, then shifting uncomfortably at times.
But he admitted, welcome though the win was, Saturday's poor fare against Rocks had 'taken the shine' off the weekend for Love.
However, the former Raiders' guard and now respected coach thought selfless team-work paid dividends against a Lions outfit who 'just wouldn't lie down'.
"I thought it was much better today. Players realised you just cannot show up here and not battle," said Love, whose team have risen to fourth in the BBL standings, winning six and losing three of their nine fixtures.
"Which is what happened (against Glasgow).
"I thought we came out with energy, played with passion and I think we played unselfishly.
"And you saw our percentages go through the roof, because we took good shots, instead of a one-on-one battle which is never going to get us anywhere.
"Today, we were good value too, and moved the ball well and played with heart and passion.
"London are a resilient team, who do not give up at all and they also hit some good shots and are a very athletic team.
"But our zone looked very good at times and we benefited from having fresh legs coming on regularly throughout.
"Yes, their pressure hurt us a little bit at the end but overall I thought we did a good job.
"We've still got a lot of work to do, but that was much, much better."
Love added: "I am still so, so disappointed, though, about losing the game on Saturday night which, to be honest, has taken the gloss of the weekend for me.
"It was very important for us to bounce back, which is what we did.
"On the positive side of things, I thought Javarris Barnett played very well and was probably our best player over the two games.
"It was definitely the best he's played. He's playing with confidence now.
"He (Barnett) can rebound and then go: around 50 per cent of our fast-breaks came from him.
"Jamal Williams can do the same and he really showed the class he has, with his composure under pressure and he passed the ball brilliantly and was a pleasure to watch.
"He only played 13 minutes, but he will get more and more time on the court. So, pleased with the result, but there's still work to do yet."
Before the game, guard Drew Lasker, who turns 30 tomorrow, took the applause for appearing in his 200th BBL Championship match against London, while O'Reilly was awarded his Raiders' player-of-the-month prize by sponsors Subway.
A fair-sized crowd, albeit on the quiet side until the late alarms, saw Raiders and Lions trade baskets in a cagey first quarter before Love's men chugged on from a 22-18 advantage to end the stanza five points to the good at 34-29.
Raiders, though, tightened their grip on the game in the second quarter, going in at half-time 60-44 ahead as O'Reilly, Barnett and Mike Ojo helped the hosts pile up the points. It was déja vu in the third with Raiders taking a 17-point – 82-65 – lead overall into the final phase of the encounter.
Raiders stretched the margin to 19 points – 96-77.
Scorers: Raiders: O'Reilly 29 points (12/21 field-goals), Barnett 24 (8/18), Ojo 21 (8/12), Bell 17 (6/10), Schneck 12 (5/9), Lasker 5 (2/3); London: Jackman 29 (8/16), Ogedengbe 24 (11/22), Spencer 12 (4/8)
Leading rebounder: Raiders: Schneck 14; London: James 10
Leader in assists: Raiders: Bell/O'Reilly 5; London: Lawson 9
Field-Goal Percentage: Raiders: 55 per cent (41/75 attempts); London: 51 per cent (40/79)
Three-Point Percentage: Raiders: 39 per cent (9/23 attempts); London: 37 per cent (10/27)
Free-Throw Percentage: Raiders: 89 per cent (17/19 attempts); London: 50 per cent (8/16)
Total rebounds: Raiders 42 London 34
Offensive rebounds: Raiders 12 London 10
Turnovers: Raiders 20 London 16
Fast-break points: Raiders 15 London 8
Biggest lead: Raiders 23 London 4
Points in the paint: Raiders 42 London 50
Points off the bench: Raiders 5 London 24
BBL Championship: Manchester 71 Leicester 82, Leicester 79 Mersey 40, Cheshire 83 Manchester 81, Surrey 76 Glasgow 82