Well, we all saw it but I’m not sure any of us quite believed it. Hurts so much thinking about I hardly want to remind anyone about it, BUT you have to be big and you have to stand proud and if we celebrate our wins then we have to face up to our losses.
In many ways, it wasn’t the defeat that hurt, although obviously it did. It was the manner of it and how it happened. I genuinely can’t remember ever seeing an Eagles home crowd react like that at the final play. The stunned and shocked silence said it all and never has a silence been so loud.
Simple fact is that we’ve probably never ever, at least in my memory, lost a game in that fashion. Twelve points up with 2:39 left and we allow a 13 – 0 run. Unbelievable, except that it was believable as it happened right in front of our eyes.
The devastation, hurt and disbelief we all felt was compounded when you looked at the players. My commentary on those final four seconds was appalling as I said “Cheshire” and not “Sandoval” stole the ball and never gave a mention to OJ as he netted a basket that will live long in the memory for all the wrong reasons.
It had not been written, it had not been said but it had been thought by many us that have been there with this team since the season began and that was not only could this team win all four, they could even go unbeaten. Now we can stop thinking it and breathe a little even if those breaths are intermingled with sobs.
One win and five unbeaten does not make a team great, it just gives it potential. Equally one defeat does not make a team bad, it just means we still have things to work on and who knows, it might even make us stronger? Particularly in the way it happened.
We have a rule that what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room and I won’t break that rule, it’s more than my life’s worth, but one thing I do know is that I doubt anyone in the locker room will forget that moment and no-one wants it occurring again.
Then, after it was all over, I had to find someone to interview and try and make sense of it all. Step forward the ultimate professional and one of the classiest guys I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, getting to know and interviewing, Mr. Kai Williams.
It wasn’t necessarily the content of the interview as I struggled to find the right questions for him to answer but it was his demeanor, thoughtfulness and candid comments that marked this out as a pretty special interview. How he gathered himself together to say what he said I don’t know but I thank him for doing so.
The one thing he said that really drove in to my heart was that one play does not decide a game and one player cannot shoulder the blame. All are in this together and all could have done something different in the game that could have tipped it our way earlier and he believed we should have closed out earlier.
Did we miss Nims? Of course, we did. What team wouldn’t have missed their on-court general and leader. I think we missed him all game and whilst others did their best to cover his absence there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind and that includes Cheshire players and staff I talked to after the game that we would have won had he played.
But, cue Kai again, and yes, we still should have had enough to close out the game. But, it didn’t happen, and we didn’t, and you must congratulate Phoenix for not letting their heads drop and to keep on digging until they hit treasure. Just not so sure what happened on Sunday at home against Manchester.
One final thought on Friday is this. We all watch sport for a reason. In some respects, there’s nothing like live sport for throwing up dramatic and memorable, even for the wrong reasons, moments and it would be cruel and wrong of me not to say that whatever the result that was dramatic sport at its best.
Perhaps too the reaction, hurt and feeling was that little bit harder to swallow for us because it was a Cup game and it was a once and done that you can’t get back. So, now, someone else gets to hold that wonderful big “new” BBL Cup and Eric, Dave H and I don’t get our annual pilgrimage to Mad O’Rourke’s Pie Factory!
So, what now? Well it’s still a 100% record in The League and Surrey come to Toon to test that record on Friday. As I type this the guys are already in practice and preparing for that game. I suspect the practice session and Friday’s game couldn’t and can’t come quick enough.
Yes, we’ve lost a game and yes, we can’t win the cup but there are still three fronts to fight on and that’s a lot and something to aim for. I hope to see you all on Friday and I leave you with this quote from the highly-touted and very famous Alabama Crimson Tide Football Coach, Nick Saban.
“One thing about championship teams is that they’re resilient. No matter what is thrown at them, no matter how deep the hole, they find a way to bounce back and overcome adversity.”