In the first game of Leeds Force’s three-game away spell, at Glasgow Rocks, we couldn’t quite get it done. Losing by a single point for the second time this month – this time 75-74 – was heartbreaking, especially at this stage of the season.
The opening few minutes of the game saw our coach Matt Newby forced into an early time-out after the Rocks jumped ahead 10-0.
Having resettled ourselves, we shortly opened our scoring account and began to find our way back into the game. Although we made it difficult, we still trailed by five points as the buzzer sounded for the end of the first quarter (22-17).
It was a evenly matched second period and neither team wanted to give an inch!
With less than a minute left of the first half, a three-pointer by Kwan Waller tied the game at 37 but a late free-throw followed by a rhythm jump-shot for the home side meant tthey went into the half-time break ahead by three points at 40-37.
The third quarter was exactly what you would expect – two teams locked in on defence and there was nothing between them.
We each scored 16 points as the Rocks held on to their marginal lead. With both teams refusing to give an inch, an exciting finish was on the cards and we went into the final quarter down by three points (56-53).
As we took the court we were ready for another 10 mins of battle but it went nothing like we had anticipated.
The Rocks came out firing and had established a 15 point cushion mid-way through the quarter and all seemed to be lost for the Force.
Despite it looking as though the game was out of reach, we were never going to give up. We fought back into the game with the help of some huge baskets from Marek Klassen and with 41 seconds remaining in the game, we had pulled to within just two points.
Having made a number of big shots down the stretch to bring us back into the game, the Rocks were focused on taking Klassen out of the game.
As he drove to the hoop the defence collapsed on him and left Force’s captain Armand Anebo open on the three-point line!
With the game on the line, he made the shot and gave us a one-point lead with 23 seconds to go.
The home side came down with one chance to try and regain the lead as time wound down.
They looked to their captain and Great Britain international, Kieron Achara to deliver and unfortunately for the Force, he did just that.
With six seconds to go and the ball in his hands, he faded away from the basket and drained a tough, contested shot to secure the victory for his team (75-74).
Despite the loss, our goal is still the same.
Our sights are still firmly set on making the playoffs and that is not about to change.
Our next game is away at our Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Sharks on Wednesday night at the English Institute of Sport (7.30pm) in what I’m sure will be another exciting contest.
Sharks are fourth in the standings, comfortably in the play-offs after a strong season and as ever in this fixture, they will be favourites to claim the victory.
Nevertheless, we will be going into this game with just as much desire as ever and hopefully we can get ourselves a vital win before we head back up to Glasgow on Sunday for our third and final match up with the Rocks – hellbent on revenge.