A TENACIOUS Leeds Force slipped to another loss in the new British Basketball League campaign, slumping to a 101-83 defeat against Cheshire Phoenix.
Despite a spirited second-quarter comeback, the ruthless Phoenix dominated late-on as Force failed to build on a first win of the season a week ago.
An electrifying opening saw Cheshire burst out of the gates, rallying behind three consecutive baskets from the untouchable CJ Gettys to open the contest.
Force countered through a pair of emphatic Allie Fullah blocks, as Leeds looked to shut down Phoenix’s phenomenal first five minutes.
GB international Orlan Jackman’s spectacular long-range triple kept the pressure on the home side, before American star Tre Bennett stemmed Cheshire’s momentum with a three of his own.
Former Force threat Rob Sandoval powered Phoenix into a double-digit lead with an all-too familiar lethal lay-up, as Cheshire continued to build their advantage.
Leeds skipper Samuel Toluwase’s soaring slam breathed life into the faltering Force, before a cold-blooded three from Andrew Bachman charged Cheshire into a 14-point lead to end the first quarter.
Eric Childress injected some much-needed energy into Leeds’ offence with a sensational spinning finish to open the second period.
A week into his Leeds tenure, new signing Eric Curth marvelled with an incredible acrobatic effort, as Force began to apply the pressure in search of an unlikely comeback.
A pulsating five-minute stint saw both teams duel back-and-forth, ramping up the tempo and exchanging continuous blows as a brilliant offensive showdown began to take shape.
Toluwase’s three-point salvo and Tavarion Nix’s ferocious throw-down whittled Phoenix’s lead down to six, before long-range menace Bachman answered with another triple to halt Leeds’ offensive purple patch.
Consecutive triples from Nix and Bennett capped a dominating run that saw Force demolish Cheshire’s advantage down to a meagre three points at the half.
A disastrous beginning to the second half saw all of Leeds’ hard-work unravel, with a porous defensive display seeing Phoenix pry open a 13-point advantage.
Exuding attacking flair, ex-Leeds stalwart Sandoval’s defence-splitting bounce pass unleashed May-Thompson at the rim as Force continued to stutter.
In need of a spark, captain Toluwase hauled Leeds back into contention with a vital five-point salvo.
Leeds’ lacklustre play allowed the merciless Phoenix to pounce, pouring on points and battering Force to their knees in a one-sided third quarter encounter.
Five crucial points from Childress sparked hopes of an unexpected comeback, only for a deadly triple from Tevin Falzon to kill off a resurgent and valiant Force’s chances of overturning the deficit.
Two quick-fire trebles from Nix failed to ignite a fatigued Force late on, as Cheshire comfortably cruised to an easy road victory.