D1: Trailblazers stave off late Westminster fight back to pick up crucial win 12/03/17


Westminster Warriors 67 (14, 28, 45)
Derby Trailblazers 72 (17, 39, 60)
NBL Men’s Division One

Derby Trailblazers ended their three game losing streak with a much needed 67-72 away win over Westminster Warriors. Whilst it wasn’t the slickest of Derby performances, the Trailblazers did enough to hang on for victory against a Westminster who fought valiantly as they struggle to avoid an almost inevitable drop into NBL division two.

Turnovers once again blighted Derby’s cause, but this time it wasn’t just the Trailblazers who were guilty in this respect. Both sides treated the ball with reckless contempt, with Derby throwing it away ten times in the first quarter alone and another nine in the second.

Thereafter, they controlled matters much better, but they still accrued a total of twenty-nine turnovers, which is simply unacceptable at this little. Fortunately, Westminster weren’t much better, with eight in the first quarter and nineteen in the game.

On a more positive note, Adria Amabilino Perez produced his best performance of the season so far, leading the team with twenty-four points off the back of 73% floor shooting, which included five three-pointers from seven attempts.

"Adria had another big game for us and it certainly seems as if he likes to play well in the capital,” commented the Trailblazers Head Coach Matt Shaw.

“He always makes a strong contribution at both ends of the floor and was literally filling the stat sheet. When he hits his first seven or eight shots, you know he's really making an impact.

"We got a much needed win and although Westminster are at the bottom of the league we knew it would be tough game. They fought to the bitter end, so it's a pleasing result for us.

“We built a decent lead early on, but they just kept battling away and we knew they'd eventually make a run. We talked about needing to absorb, it but they made the game way closer than we would have liked,” he said.

Aside from Adria Amabilino Perez, Jake Wesselingh was also in good form, converting four of six attempts from downtown on his was to twelve points. Closer to the basket, Oli Stanley finished with thirteen points and nine rebounds, while Brian Amabilino Perez finished with nine points and Max Morrison bagged eight points and collected twelve rebounds, six at each end of the court.

With relegation looming, Westminster started with brightly, playing with the kind of urgency one might expect from a team in their situation. Assistant player-coach Jonathan Johnson got them off and running with a three-pointer.

A drive to the hoop from Brian Amabilino Perez and the first triple of the day for Wesselingh, the home side moved 8-5 ahead, but their lead was short lived. Morrison converted a pair of free-throws, Chris Taylor nailed a three -pointer and Adria Amabilino Perez performed a beautiful spin move on the way to the hoop.

Westminster briefly tied the scores at 12-all, before Adria Amabilino Perez added a triple and the two sides exchanged baskets, enabling the Trailblazers to take a 14-17 lead into the first break.

The Warriors started the second period with a 6-2 burst, but Derby responded with their most dominant spells in the match. They piled in fifteen points without reply, with Adria bagging a pair of three-pointers, a trio of free-throws and a delightful half court drive to the basket after stealing the ball from Guy Rundles.

That gave the Blazers a 22-34 lead and they were still eleven points clear at the half-time break, a lead which they immediately stretched to fourteen when Morrison converted a three-point play at the start of the third.

Derby’s biggest lead of the day cam late in the third, after Wesselingh drained back-to-back triples and Stanley and Brian Amabilino Perez netted consecutive lay-ups to open up a 60-41 advantage.

However, Westminster suddenly seemed to remember the desperate nature of their situation and stepped up not one, but several gears. Johnson scored the final four points of the third and his team then added the first eleven of the fourth, to make it a six point game.

Adria Amabilino Perez finally snapped their run; his three-pointer was his first score of the second half, but Nathan Ashley immediately replied in kind, before scores from Ahmed Al Shamri and Rundles cut the gap to 61-63.

Thankfully, Derby eventually regained their composure and scored the next seven points without reply. A baseline drive from Brian Amabilino Perez was followed by one of two at the line and consecutive scores under the basket by Stanley, who came good at precisely the right time.

There was still time for Westminster to produce another late scare though. Juan Manning knocked down a pair of three-pointers either side of a single free-throw for Brian Amabilino Perez.

However, time was running out and when Chris Taylor sank one of two at the line with three seconds remaining, the rest was history and Warriors will go down if they fail to win all four of their remaining fixtures as well as benefiting from other results going in their favour.

The Trailblazers return to action next weekend with a double-header which starts with a trip to Loughborough Student Riders on Saturday (6pm) and is followed by a home match against Manchester Magic on Sunday afternoon (4:15pm)

Warriors: Johnson 29, Al-Shamri 12, Ashley 11, Manning 6, Ekperuoh 5, Rundles 4, Alli 0, Odia 0.

Derby: A. Amabilino Perez 24, Stanley 13, Wesselingh 12, B. Amabilino Perez 9, Morrison 8, Taylor 6, King 0, Bowen DNP, Ward-Hibbert DNP.

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Sunday’s results are summarised below:

D1 Men: Westminster Warriors 67 – 72 Derby Trailblazers
D4 Men (Mids): Derby Trailblazers II 72 – 85 Nottingham Hoods II