The McDonald’s Nottingham Hoods put on a show for the sell-out crowd on Saturday night, running out convincing 112-76 winners against Team Birmingham. The win leaves them just two wins away from clinching the league title and guaranteed promotion.
The game was a must win, with only 3 games left in the regular season, and the Hoods started strongly as they took a quick 13-0 lead after just 3 minutes, thanks to Wright and Siczek. A time-out from Team Birmingham did nothing to stop the rot as great inside work from Wong and long range shooting from Carberry extended the lead. The Hoods were unstoppable from behind the line, with Siczek, Carberry and Wright knocking them down routinely, much to the delight of the crowd. The Hoods finished the 1st Quarter, already with a commanding 37-18 lead.
The second quarter saw more of the same as Siczek danced his way to the basket for some tough lay-ups and the team stepped up the intensity on defence. Team Birmingham could do nothing as the pressure forced turnover after turnover as the Hoods continued to knock their shots down through Stanley and Davis. The Merry men in the crowd were treated to some fantastic basketball as the ball was moved with such precision and accuracy around the court as they waited patiently for the open shot, before knocking it down. A buzzer-beating three by Westley on the stroke of half-time just rattled out but the game was all but won as the Hoods held a commanding 60-37 lead.
In the third, the Hoods continued with their pin-point accuracy to find open man after open for some easy scores. Outstanding rebounding from Thompson and Wong ensured no second chances from Birmingham with Urbistondo beginning to find some shooting form. A beautiful passage of play saw every player touch the ball at least twice in the culminating in a Wright three just missing before Evan Carberry came steamrollering in for the huge put back dunk that had everyone in the arena, including the opposition bench, standing in. Team Birmingham found some accuracy toward the end of the quarter and went on a 13-3 run themselves but still trailed 77-56 at the end of the third.
In the fourth, the Hoods relaxed and started enjoying themselves, with Stanley confusing the defence with his footwork under the rim before Davis grabbed the steal and went coast to coast for the vicious one-handed slam. Burrows drained an open jumper and Siczek, Craberry and Wright continued to knock down their shots. With 1.52 left in the game, Westley floated the perfect pass to Thompson for a huge alley-oop two-handed slam that had the kids in the crowd falling off their seats in amazement. With time running out, the Hoods tied their highest ever score through Apostolidis, before Birmingham played out the rest of the clock. The final buzzer was greeted by a roar of appreciation from the home fans, nicknamed the Merry Men, as the Hoods move to just two wins away from the league title and automatic promotion.
Club Captain Bruce Lauder was watching from the crowds and commented, “It is an absolute pleasure to watch these guys play at the moment. They are so comfortable with each other and have so much confidence, I am proud of each and every one of them. There only have two regular season games left, but they couldn’t be against tougher opposition. Next week they travel to Liverpool, who are sitting just behind us in the league and have one less loss than us. We beat them at home, but then lost to them in overtime at their place in the Shield – it is bound to be a cracker. Then on March 14th, they are back at home against 3rd place Derby Trailblazers who will no doubt need the win to guarantee their place in the play-offs. So a good local derby to end the regular season and potentially seal the division title. This is an exciting couple of weeks for the club and the players can’t wait to get up to Liverpool next week and bring the title home.”
Carberry 23; Wright 17; Siczek 17; Urbistondo 15; Davis 12; Apostolidis 11; Wong 7; Westley 4; Thomspon 2; Stanley 2; Burrows 2
Elsewhere, Hoods II finished strongly with their last home game of the season, scraping past Birmingham Mets 51-49 thanks to a shot for the lead, followed by a block from Italian play-maker Martino Franchi (Top Scorers: Poynton 15; Dunn 13; Franchi 10) and the Hoods minis continued their dominance running out 98-10 winners.
The next home game is Saturday 14th March with a 6.30pm tip off against play-off chasing and local rivals Derby Trailblazers and the club is asking all Nottingham basketball supporters to show up and support the team – preferably in Robin Hood fancy dress. Entry is just £2 Adults and £1 under 16’s and concessions.
Nottingham Hoods are a community club with teams from under 12’s to under 18’s, they also have a women’s section. For further information check out the club Web Site www.hoodsbasketball.com
If you would like to watch a game or become a part of the Hoods family the check out www.hoodbasketball.com or follow @hoodsbasketball on Twitter