D1: Trailblazers stunning second half defence shackles London Lituanica
Derby Trailblazers 78 (20, 40, 59)
London Lituanica 61 (21, 41, 51)
NBL Men’s Division One
A dominant second half performance saw Derby Trailblazers break away from London Lituanica, outscoring the visitors 19-10 in both the third and fourth quarters to take the second half 38-20.
Strong defence was the key to Derby’s success, particularly against the league’s leading scorer, Ausrida Petraitis, who was held to just three points in the second half, after stinging the Trailblazers for nineteen points in the first two quarters.
Petraitis also collected a game high thirteen rebounds to go with his game high total of 22 points. Unsurprisingly, it was the quality of Derby’s defence which impressed the Trailblazers Head Coach Matt Shaw most significantly:
“Sunday was another tough challenge and once again we relied on our defence to get the job done. I thought our guys were excellent in the second half, producing a real team effort with different players making big contributions.
“In particular, Barish [Salih] seemed to be everywhere on defence and the ball pressure he and a collection of our other guards applied was a big factor in the win. Dan [Watts] also had yet another massive game at both ends of the floor and Mitch [Nelson] came in and also played a big part, keeping things alive and giving us considerable energy,” he said.
After a quiet game against Bradford the previous night, David TinTin Watts led the Trailblazers with 19 points and six rebounds, whilst Brian Amabilino Perez once against impressed with 18 points and six boards. Dan Watts also notched up 18 points, to which he added a team high ten rebounds, while Sydney Donaldson finished with 13 points.
The early stages of the game were relatively nip and tuck, aside from an early 8-0 Lituanica run which was capped off by an impressive alley-oop pass from Paul Adomaitis to Petraitis, which gave them an 11-5 lead.
Derby had briefly led prior to that at 5-3 and got their noses ahead again after six minutes, when a three-pointer from Brian Amabilino was followed up by an offensive rebound and points for Oli Stanley. That made it 16-15 to the Blazers and prompted an early time-out from the visitors.
Lituanica took single point lead into the first break, boosted by twelve first quarter points from Petraitis and immediately opened the second with a three-pointer from Emilijus Jankauskas.
A triple from David TinTin Watts tied the scores at 28-all two and a half minutes into the second period and a three from Brian Amabilino made it 33-32 two minutes later.
The visitors then went on a 7-1 burst, before Derby closed the first half with a 6-2 run of their own, to make it 40-41 at the break. While the Trailblazers scoring was spread throughout several players, the bulk of Lituanica’s scoring was still coming through Petraitis, who had nineteen points and ten rebounds in the first half.
Lituanica enjoyed a strong start to the third quarter, opening up a 50-44 lead, but the remainder of the period belonged to the Trailblazers. TinTin Watts got them going with a three-point play and followed it up with a huge slam dunk to make it a one-point game.
The visitors called time-out with 5’39” on the clock, but found it impossible to score following the intermission.
Instead, Dan Watts produced a sweet jump-shot from the top of the key, to put Derby 51-50 ahead. Petraitis then tied the scores with one of two at the line, but the Blazers superb defence held Lituanica scoreless for the final four minutes of the third quarter. In contrast, Derby rattled in eight straight points to take a 59-51 lead into the final period.
There was still an eight point difference when the Trailblazers missed a pair of shots at the line with five minutes remaining, but they were not going to let that disappointment dampen their resolve.
Brian Amabilino scored off the back of his own steal to spark a 10-nil burst which included another outrageous steal from Salih, whose defensive efforts were crucial to Derby’s success.
The run took the score to 73-55 with two minutes remaining and was finally broken when Marius Bausys struck from downtown, but it was too little, too late.
Tomas Grybauskas fouled out with 1’35” remaining, after which Chris Taylor scored his only points of the night, as he connected with an alley-oop pass from Donaldson. It was a fitting way to end and impressive victory against another very strong side.
“These guys continue to impress me week after week,” commented Coach Shaw.
“They are such a great group to work with and we have a squad with depth and guys who are willing to play their role too.
“This weekend was another example of that, with twelve players seeing the floor and making an impact in various ways. In addition, we had another talented youngster on the bench Sunday and I’m sure it won’t be long before Connor [Hersey] gets on court,” he said.
Derby face the same opposition next Sunday afternoon, with the reverse fixture against London Lituanica unusually coming just seven days after the home game:
“We know it will be really tough next weekend in London. It's usually a little more difficult on the road than it is at home, so we will be working hard to get ourselves ready for the second game against them,” Shaw said.
Tip-off at Newvic College in London is at one o’clock next Sunday afternoon.
Derby: David Watts 19, B. Amabilino 18, Dan Watts 18, Donaldson 13, Salih 1, Stanley 3, Nelson 0, Taylor 2, A. Amabilino 0, King 0, Wesselingh DNP.
Lituanica: Petraitis 22, Grybauskas, 9, Adomaitis 7, Bausys 6, Vaupsas 6, Volskis 4, Jankauskas 3, Igoa Enjilo 2, Kazlauskas 2, Visockas DNP.
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Unlike Saturday, when all six Trailblazers teams won their respective matches, there were mixed results for the club on Sunday. The full results where as follows:
D1 Men: Derby Trailblazers 78-61 London Lituanica
Men’s NEDL: Gateshead Phoenix 94-68 Derby Trailblazers (III)
U14 Boys (NPL): Derby Trailblazers 34-76 Manchester Giants
U14 Girls (NDL): Leicester Warriors 0-20 Derby Trailblazers (forfeited)
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