The Eagles were looking to avenge their earlier home defeat to 3rd placed Kingston and to consolidate their 2nd placed league standing….
The Eagles travelled the short distance to Hull minus both Rafael Camargo-Blas and Domantas Karpinskas because of vacation time but had included last year’s MVP Themba Yabantu and Danny Horta…. The game was played in front of a good crowd with a great atmosphere to be fit a top of the table clash… It was the visitors in black who got on the board first with Chris Linsley netting the first 5 points… The Panthers in blue then hit back a with mini 7-0 run including two free throws from their top scorer Dennis Scott… The game then seesawed back and forth and with a good 0-8 run inside the final 2 minutes the Eagles lead by 17-19….
The second quarter was again a very close affair with the Eagles picking up where they had ended the first with another 0-8 run making it 17-27… The Panthers then called time out and it steadied their ship as they hit back with an 8-0 run of their own… The teams then traded turn over’s and baskets taking us into the half time at 32-37… (15-18)
The 3rd quarter was a little higher scoring but again it was very much a replica of what had gone before with both teams making small scoring runs… The home side had by the 5th minute tied the game up with a big perimeter shot from Scott making it 42-42…The Eagles called time out and with this they edged the last 5 minutes with Danny Horta scoring 14 points in that stretch as they went into the period break slightly up at 55-58….
The final 10 minutes was set to be a humdinger as both teams looked for a convincing run to take the game by the scruff of the neck… The first 5 minute sequence saw both teams stay close to each other and with Yabantu scoring from down town it was all tied up at 63-63… The decisive run happened with some inconsistent calls being made in favour of Scott who held his nerve at the stripe and he edged the game in favour of the boys in blue… They led 76-74 with 1.30 to play before Alex Horta was fouled on the perimeter he made two of three tying the game up at 76-76… The Panthers then hit a big banked 3 with new signing Hodkin taking his chance… Yabantu immediately replied making it 79-78… The Panthers again held nerve at the line taking it to 81-78… The Eagles had a possession to tie the game but the shot rimmed out… They immediately fouled off the rebound but the Panthers made the free throws and the game was closed out at 83-78….
Eagles head coach Graham Heath said “We came and played solid basketball for about 34 minutes but against a decent team in their own barn it wasn’t enough… We had players missing but we more than should have covered with that with the players we brought in… Our issue was too many unforced turnovers and we couldn’t always match up with their size in the paint… It’s disappointing to lose a game I feel we should have won… Our own frailties missed scoring chances and poor game understanding hurt us…. We will regroup this week and hopefully be back to full strength on Saturday to face top of the table Doncaster…. “
Eagles Top Scorers- Danny Horta 25, Themba Yabantu 22 and Chris Linsley 12….
Eagles U23 v Doncaster Saturday 12th January 2019 tips off at 6pm at Eagles Community Foundation Arena….