D1: Trailblazers second half collapse leads to third league defeat
London Lituanica 85 (13, 37, 58)
Derby Trailblazers 78 (19, 47, 63)
NBL Men’s Division 1
There haven’t been too many occasions when Derby Trailblazers have been outplayed this season, but the second half of Sunday’s trip to London Lituanica was one of them. What materialised was completely unexpected after Derby had beaten the same side 78-61 at home the previous weekend and had held a 47-25 lead just two and half minutes before half time.
However, a 12-0 run by the home side cut the gap to just ten points and gave Lituanica the belief they could go on to win the game.
Derby shot the ball brilliantly in the early stages and were eight of eleven from beyond the arc, with David Tin-Tin Watts having shot six of eight. However, the Trailblazers somehow failed to hit another long range shot, as the Londoners stepped up defensively.
While Derby won the second half of the home game against Lituanica 38-20 the previous weekend, the home team wreaked revenge with a 48-31 second half onslaught on their home court, to clinch an 85-78 victory.
David Watts led Derby with 27 points and six rebounds, while Sydney Donaldson had 22 points and Dan Watts completed a double-double of ten points and twelve rebounds, but it was not enough to stop Lituanica and Head Coach Matt Shaw was forced to admit it had been the proverbial game of two halves:
“For the first sixteen minutes, we were sensational. We hit almost every shot we took and played at a really great pace. However, they ended the half well and I guess that gave them a little momentum.
“We will look at the tape and try to analyse where we went wrong, but in essence we didn't hit our shots in the second half. I think they should be given credit for their defence after the break; they certainly made it a lot tougher for us. That, coupled with them playing much better offensively, led to them coming away with a big win.
“As a team we had a few too many turnovers and in many, ways that was perhaps the key. We scored 78 points, just as we had done against them last week, but we didn't get the stops in the second half. They had a much more balanced attack with a couple of other players available and that made it tough to key in on one or two players.
“It's frustrating because we had such a good lead, but the big swings are basketball so fun and unpredictable. We've managed to pull off some similar come backs a few times already this season and we see it each week across the league; it's so competitive.
“Games can change quickly and today just wasn't our day. We battled until the end and I know that lads are gutted, but we’re in a great league and I'm still delighted with the guys overall effort on the floor this season,” he said.
Back-to-back triples from David Watts forced an early time-out from the Lithuanians as they trailed 8-4 after less than three minutes, but Watts struck again soon after the resumption to make it 13-6.
After a response from Petraitis, Donaldson replied, Watts added 2/2 at the line and Mitch Nelson grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to make it 19-8. Another single basket from Vaidas Trepocka was followed by scores for David Watts and Chris Taylor, before Donaldson struck from downtown.
Both sides then converted three-point plays to leave the Trailblazers 29-13 ahead at the end of the first quarter.
Derby looked unstoppable in the early stages of the second, as they produced a 16-8 run which featured three more triples from David Watts and another from Taylor, all courtesy of a string of assists from Kayne King. All of that left them 47-25 ahead with less than three minutes of the first half remaining, but that was as good as it got for the Trailblazers.
Lituanica stepped up defensively and found a number of different ways to score. Petraitis and Tomas Grybauskas both sank three-pointers in a strong finish to the quarter and they went into the break just 47-37 in arrears.
The home side seemed to take confidence from that run and benefited still further as Derby seemingly went away from what had made them tick in the early stages. Lituanica gradually fought back into the game, eventually tying the scores at 66-all through Petraitis with 7’40” fourth quarter minutes remaining.
The two sides exchanged scores before two opportunities to let the Blazers back in front were denied. First, Donaldson missed an open jump shot and then Taylor was called for a dubious shot clock violation. Lituanica responded with a three-point play from Petraitis and eight points from Lukas Volskis in an 11-1 burst which effectively sealed the result in their favour.
Donaldson bravely tried to carry his team back into contention, but despite drawing a string of fouls, only managed to convert three of eight at the line, whilst hampered by a shoulder injury. On reflection, he perhaps should have opted to involve his teammates a little more in the closing stages, but Lituanica’s tight defence meant that was rarely an option.
Petraitis 21, Adomatis 14, Grybauskas 11, Trepocka 11, Vaupsas 10, Volksis 10, Rasamivicius 5, Jankauskas 3, Visockas 0, Bausys DNP, Kazlauskas DNP, Igoa Enjilo DNP.
David Watts 27, Donaldson 22, Dan Watts 10, Taylor 9, B. Amabilino 2, King 2, Salih 2, Nelson 2, Stanley 2, Amabalino 0.
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It wasn’t a great weekend for the club’s other teams either, with only the U18 Men picking up a positive result. The full results are as follows:
D1 Men: London Lituanica 85-78 Derby Trailblazers
D3 Men: Team Birmingham 90-54 Derby Trailblazers II
D3 Men: Derby Trailblazers II 0-20 Team Birmingham (forfeited)
Men’s NEDL: Derby Trailblazers III 65-72 Sheffield Sabres
U18 Men (NP): Derby Trailblazers 88-73 City of Birmingham
U16 Boys (MDL): Derby Trailblazers 55-94 Leicester Dynamite
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