Plymouth 98 Leeds Force 78: Elementary for Watson as Force come up short on south coast
Leeds Force continued their winless start to the new British Basketball League campaign, suffering a 98-78 defeat to the Plymouth Raiders.
A scintillating 38-point showing from point guard Neil Watson demolished Force’s late lead and powered Plymouth to victory.
A whirlwind opening saw Plymouth race into an early advantage, capitalising on Force’s porous defensive play inside the opening three minutes.
Despite Childress and Bankevics’ threes levelling proceedings for Force, momentum swung Raiders’ way, with a trio of long-range triples prying open a nine-point lead for Plymouth and forcing Leeds into a much-needed timeout.
With the game seemingly slipping away from Leeds again, an electrifying response saw new-signing Tavarion Nix’s spectacular three and a soaring tip-in from skipper Samuel Toluwase snap Raiders’ free-scoring spree.
With the game finely poised, a marvellous offensive flurry in the second period from both teams ignited a back-and-forth battle, Nix and Antonio Deogratias’ threes answered straight away by Raiders threat Watson as half-time loomed.
In need of an offensive spark in the second half, Nix stepped up with a stunning rebound and finish, before dropping a cold-blooded triple as Force snatched their first advantage of the game. Nix continued to rampage with a ferocious one-handed throw-down, dealing blow after blow to a stuttering Plymouth.
Nix’s spark invigorated Leeds, forcing Plymouth into a shot-clock violation whilst Bankevics registered consecutive threes as Force fired into a nine-point lead.
Leeds’ lofty lead quickly disintegrated, with 14 straight points from the untouchable Watson leaving a despairing Force stunned and three points down with one quarter remaining.
Buoyed by Watson’s third quarter explosion, Plymouth rallied behind a rejuvenated home crowd and ramped up their defensive pressure in the fourth. Watson continued to propel Raiders, as a tired Leeds began to feel the effects of two road games in 48 hours.
A sea of green shirts continuously shut out a waning Leeds, as Plymouth piled on the points and earned a first win of the year whilst a frustrated Force suffered defeat but with their heads held high.