Leeds Force have had some tough losses this season but Saturday night’s 88-87 defeat to Surrey Scorchers is one of the hardest to take.
It was such a close game. I thought we played some really good attacking basketball but I guess they had just that bit more than us.
We went there looking to win the series, we were 1-0 up and Surrey are a really good team that will be in and around the play-off places we so desperately want to be a part of come the end of the season, so it’s very important to win the series.
Now it’s 1-1 so we do have another chance to win the series later in the year.
But that doesn’t make up for the fact we should have wrapped it up on Saturday.
Looking back on it, it was so close. Again I don’t think we started too well.
They became the aggressors and they built quite a gap.
But in the second quarter we kicked into gear. We were the aggressors, we took the game to them and Jack Isenbarger just couldn’t miss.
Everything he shot was going in and it was fitting he scored the basket right at the end of the half for us to go into the break with the slender lead.
The second half couldn’t get any closer. We went ahead and then they did; the lead just kept changing hands and I couldn’t tell you how many times it did.
Coach Matt Newby kept encouraging us and we believed we could win the game.
In the last five minutes, they seemed to be pulling away again but, Armand (Anebo) did what all good captains do and led from the front as he came up with a huge basket.
That got us going again, It was a gruelling game so everyone, on both sides, was tiring.
So when Armand tipped it in we were a point behind with something like a minute to play.
Rob (Sandoval) was so unlucky not to win us the game in the final seconds, and that was that – Force had lost the game.
And I would say this defeat hurt more than the others.
Especially for the likes of Jack, when you throw down 28 points and don’t win it hurts.
Jermaine Sanders and Rob also came in with big numbers which we are used to, so when you look at the stats and see three players hitting big numbers and lose, it’s frustrating.
On my own performance I only scored two baskets which isn’t nearly good enough.
It was difficult for me to play my game.
If I could have contributed more maybe we could have won but I can’t beat myself up about it.
I just have to make sure I put up better numbers against Newcastle Eagles on Friday night when they come to the Carnegie Sports Arena (tip-off 7.30pm).
Many would see that they are top of the league and we are 11th but they can be beaten and our game isn’t that bad, or that far away, despite what the recent results suggest.
Worcester Wolves beat them on their home court last week so it proves they can be beaten.
We beat them last year too, so we aren’t scared of them.
What a game it would be to put down a marker to the league that we haven’t given up and still need to be taken seriously.
Newcastle beat us earlier in the season but it wasn’t a runaway success for them as many would expect, and if we put in the same display as last week down in Surrey, we still believe we could cause a major upset.
It’s a double header this weekend so we then hit the road and go down to Plymouth Raiders on the Sunday (4pm tip-off).
So it’s a big weekend for us with two huge games, two big opportunities and a lot of miles to be travelled.
It is time to end this losing run and send a few shock waves through the British Basketball League.
I hope to see as many of you as possible down at the Carnegie Sports Arena on Friday night as we look to make it as difficult as possible for Newcastle.
Come and enjoy a good night out for the family and some really high-level basketball.
We Are Force!
Interview: Arif Ahmed