It doesn’t matter which sport you play, which part of the world you are from, in all sports everyone loves an underdog.
Friday in London at the Copper Box was no exception. With Leeds an outside 6/1 chance of winning, the bookies hadn’t given Force much of a shot, and with the last two winners of the BBL’s Most Valuable Player Zaire Taylor and GB Captain Andrew Sullivan playing for the London Lions nobody can really blame them. With Dwayne Camille and Paul Holland missing because of work commitments and Will Hall (back) and myself (nose) missing due to injury, our backs really were against the wall and we fit the role of underdogs.
After a neck and neck first nine minutes of the game, a lapse in concentration led to two easy baskets from the Lions and we were left trailing 16-11. In a reverse of fortunes, the second quarter was again neck and neck until the last minute, with a late run capped off by a huge dunk from Bethune just before the buzzer sounded to make it a one-point game.
After a brief lead to start the quarter, the Lions showed why they are currently fifth in the league reeling off a 15-0 run leaving Force looking dead and buried. However a late surge with a balanced attack with four players contributing reduced the deficit to just nine points going into the final quarter of the game.
With the game hanging in the balance, Leeds produced a huge 7-0 run to start the quarter and set up a tense end to the game in the capital.
Trailing by as many as seven with less than five minutes to play, Force used perhaps one of the finest displays of defence we have seen this season to claw back into the game. With 25 seconds remaining in the game, Attah hit the lay up to tie the game. Leaving Zaire Taylor the chance to be the hero and win it for the Lions, however another outstanding display of defence left the score tied as the buzzer sounded and sent us into our first-ever overtime game in the BBL.
Momentum had shifted into our favour and that carried through into the extra five minutes of play, with the defence smothering the Lions. Then a 9-3 run in the final minute of overtime sealed the game and another historic moment for the newest club in the BBL. This result not only proves our competitiveness in the league, but leaves us just two wins outside of the play-off positions, which as mentioned in my first article would be an astronomical achievement in our first season in the professional league.
With the underdogs taking the game, the photographers and members of the crowd were the first to congratulate the all-round team performance they had just witnessed. It was great to see such appreciation of a stunning game of basketball.
Just 48 hours after the huge win in the capital, it was on to Manchester who were confident after defeating Bristol and leapfrogging them in the table. The shortage of players really seemed to catch up with us, running out of steam and eventually falling 72-61 after a 24-15 fourth quarter from the Lancashire outfit.
Thankfully we look ahead to a weekend off from any games, with the chance for all players to recover from injury and from the huge amount of minutes played. Despite the lack of games, we get a chance to help one of our sponsors, Yoghies, celebrate the official opening of their brand new store in The Core. Originally from my home town of Barnoldswick, they have expanded and moved to Leeds.
At the opening, I hope I manage to make it through the weekend without eating too many of their waffles, smothered in Nutella and whipped cream. They may be my kryptonite. If you get a chance, pop in and see us this weekend.