West Brom Basketball Club continued their successful pre-season campaign with a tense 81-80 victory on their travels over Broadway Casino Aces.
West Brom were buoyed by their previous double-success earlier in pre-season, but went into the clash short on numbers – with MVP Ezran Little and Defensive Player of the Year Tyrone Lewis absent for the trip.
However, they once again leaned on new signing Michael Banczer to secure the win, as he dropped a team-high 37 on their way to victory.
The game started well for the visitors, with the team clicking early offensively, opening up a quick gap – albeit a small one over their opponents.
The Aces held their nerve though keeping the scores close, with several big names on their ranks, including former BBL man Martyn Gayle – who managed 17 points through the encounter.
But by the end of the period, West Brom cashed in from the free throw line to secure a 23-14 lead.
Any thoughts of a smooth ride for West Brom were quickly put on hold in the second quarter however – with foul trouble hitting the visitors and allowing Broadway back into the contest.
The hosts quickly levelled the scores in the opening minutes courtesy of a Roel Thompson lay-up, and looked like snatching the half-time lead – only for West Brom to take a one point lead by the midway buzzer.
The third stanza proved a much tighter affair, with both teams upping their defensive intensity.
Adam Dawson helped keep the Black Country side in touch with a duo of three pointers. However, it was a long-range effort from Ugis Vacis at the buzzer which gifted the Aces the a 57-56 lead heading into the final quarter.
With an atmosphere not too dissimilar to a playoff clash, tempers began to flare between the hosts and the referees. Following a call midway through the period, Thompson drew the referee’s wrath with the first of a three technical fouls in the quarter.
With West Brom keeping their cool and cashing in at the charity stripe, another technical foul shortly followed before Thompson was ejected for his second technical of the game.
However, the visitors didn’t make things easy for themselves, with a number of costly turnovers keeping the scores close.
It came down to the final few plays to decide a victor, and with Gayle in possession of the ball with seconds remaining, second-year guard Luke Hatfield drew a late charging foul to give his side possession with less than 15 seconds left and West Brom up by two.
Yet it was another late turnover which gave the Aces a chance to level and force overtime – with Kristian Dickson fouled with just moments remaining.
Hitting the first of two free-throws he brought the game to just a single point’s difference, but couldn’t hit his final shot to drag the game into an extra period, securing the win for West Brom.
Speaking following the game, Banczer was thrilled to secure the win over a tough pre-season opponent:
“Although it was only a pre-season game, it was definitely a thriller.” He said.
“It was great to see our team come together at the end and pull away with a W.
“I think we’re in a great place offensively in terms of playing motion basketball but we still have a lot of work to do defensively.
“Once we get it all under control then the sky’s the limit.”
West Brom are set to get their regular season underway on October 2nd, when they travel to Churchbridge ‘A’, before their home Premier Division debut against Trojans on Friday 13th October.
Check out our calendar to stay up to date with fixtures for all of our teams this season.
Luke Hatfield @Luke_Hatfield
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