A seriously under strength McDonald’s Nottingham Hoods made the long journey to Tees Valley knowing that nothing short of a convincing win would be good enough, and they did not disappoint with a great display of team basketball to run out 62-85 winners.
With the current top two scorers in Scott and Siczek sidelined, as well as Stanley, Tomas and Assinder unavailable for the weekend’s game, captain Apostolidis had to rally his troops to ensure the Hoods stayed tied at the top with Liverpool. He led from the front with a great display, ensuring his entire team got involved and tying the club record of 8 assists in a game at the same time.
The first quarter was a very low scoring affair as both teams looked to blow away the cobwebs after a long Christmas break. The Hoods appeared out of sorts, missing their two main scoring threats as they missed some easy chances and Tees Valley took an 11-4 lead, assisted by Alvaro getting into early foul trouble and having to sit most of the quarter. The Hoods then began to find their rhythm as Davis and Wong battled inside before a Mitchell 3 late in the quarter ensured the Hoods went into the break up 11-13.
The second quarter was an entirely different affair as the Hoods began to take control, orchestrated by their guards, Apostolidis, Mitchell and Wright. Danny Wong was making a nuisance of himself inside, as he and Dargis grabbed every rebound including several offensive boards to stretch the Hoods lead to 18-34.
In the third, the game really opened up with both teams scoring freely, but more great work from Mitchell and intelligent shooting from Westley continued to extend the Hoods lead. There was concern as Alvaro rolled his ankle and appeared in some discomfort, but that just spurred the Hoods on again as Davis, Dargis and Wong dominated the key and finished shots from the foul line, whilst blocking Tees Valley attempts at the defensive end. After three, the Hoods were in complete control, leading 40-63.
The game all but won, coach Waghorn ran the bench to give them some valuable minutes as they wait on the return of the injured players. Burrows took over the point guard duties well and new signing Troy Thompson went on a rampage scoring 8 quick personal points as he found himself wide open under the basket. Thompson was also screening hard to really open up the Hoods offence as they controlled the game and finished 62-85 winners, with Danny Wong recording his first double-double in a Hoods shirt, scoring 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
Scorers: Wong 17 (10 rebounds; 2 steals); Davis 14 (9 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 assists); Mitchell 14 (5 assists); Wright 8 (4 assists); Thompson 8 (5 rebounds); Westley 8 (2 assists); Guerro 7 (2 steals); Dargis 6 (12 rebounds; 4 blocks; 3 steals); Apostolidis 3 (8 assists); Burrows 1
After the game, Team Captain Apostolidis commented, “the first game back after such a long break is always a difficult one to gauge, especially with so many injuries to key players. I am really proud of the way the team worked together today, whilst there were stand out individual performances, it was the team game that won it today, which is how we want to play. We have a really tough week’s training ahead of us now, with two difficult games at the weekend. On Saturday, we are away in Sheffield, which is always a difficult place to play; in fact we have only won there once in our history! Then we have a really tough game away to Liverpool in the Shield semi-final. When we met in the league, it was a really physical game and I imagine the atmosphere at their place will be electric. I know we have a strong contingent of our Merry Men going to the game as well, which will help and the prize of a final will be motivation enough for the guys.”
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