West Brom Basketball Club’s opening day struggles continued for a second straight season, as they lost to newly formed side Balts in an entertaining albeit ultimately disappointing home opener.
The Premier Division side welcomed their new opponents, who had previously won the title before departing the league several years ago – but could not get the better of the visitors who eventually ran out 103-82 victors.
In a hard fought first quarter, both sides traded baskets before Balts built up a 20-9 lead midway through the period, forcing West Brom head coach Tim Rudge into a time-out to gather his forces.
The break had the desired effect as West Brom fought back to within four by the end of the first ten minutes with the score at 32-28 in favour of the visitors.
The second period showed just as much fight as the first, although scoring opportunities were few and far between for both sides, with neither managing to gain ground on the other.
Ending the half 47-43 down, West Brom were hoping for a trademark third quarter surge to help regain the lead, but instead they found themselves on the end of a long range onslaught from the visitors.
Hitting a trio of three point baskets, Balts fired their way into a ten point lead, before further extending that deficit as West Brom struggled to find their range.
Up by 17 by the start of the fourth quarter, the visitors were in complete control – and despite their efforts the Black Country side couldn’t regain a foothold for a late comeback.
Eventually succumbing to a 103-82 defeat, West Brom were left hurting in their opening encounter once again, having fallen victim to a similar result at the start of the last campaign to MLC.
Tim Rudge admitted that he was disappointed with the result, but not by the performance of his side.
“I have to say the standard of basketball was excellent.” Rudge said.
“[It was] high scoring, well officiated, and we saw two very talented but organised teams go head to head without the game boiling over, which is surprising when you think how intense it was.
“We couldn’t stop their shots, but worse than that, they shot an incredible percentage which meant that we were not able to get our fair share of fast breaks from misses.
“The third quarter was our downfall, not scoring at one end and with them then shooting the lights out at our end.
“We looked good when we got the loose ball in the first half and from their scores, some of the moves we made at pace were terrific.
“I’m not disappointed with the performance, obviously the result, but despite that I think we played well.”
Scorers: Luke Hatfield 17, Ezran Little 16, Sam Rudge 12, James Tweedale 10, Cash Evans 9, Liam Sheridan 7, Mudie Kapfumviti 5, Stefan Artzrouni 5, Dale Deakin 1, Arjun Chauhan 0, Shaun Poole DNP, Oskar Lewandowski DNP.
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