The Plymouth City Patriots are rapidly approaching their 100th game since being established during the summer of 2021. In that seemingly short space of time, they have experienced a number of highs and achievements, and despite not necessarily having a winning record, in no particular order, here are the top ten key moments in their short but eventful existence.
Patriots First Basket
This was quite an achievement, after Carl Heslop took the reins of the newest club in the British Basketball League a few months or so before they would play their first game. Being forced to create a new brand, build a roster and bridge relationships across the city was no easy task, and when Cameron King made the clubs first points from a layup in the first minute of the British Basketball League Cup game against the Bristol Flyers, a real sense of achievement took over.
Kofi Breaks The Record
Kofi Josephs was an integral part of the first ever Patriots squad, with his athletic ability and outside shooting prowess. Both were on display 21st November 2021, when Josephs caught fire and torched the Manchester Giants for 46 points. The game ended in a narrow defeat for the Patriots, but Josephs would enter the record books that night, for being the highest scoring British born player in the history of the British Basketball League.
Beating the Mighty Lions
In November 2023, the Patriots managed to be the first team this season to notch up a win against the mighty London Lions. The Lions, who are currently not only the richest team in the land but have also spent more on their players per season than any team in the history of the British Basketball League, rolled into Plymouth expecting a relatively easy win, against a Patriots team that were without a win of their own. The Pavilions crowd remained relentlessly at fever pitch, whilst their team executed play after play with precision. They dominated the reigning champs and took an unlikely yet epic win 94-70. Which leads nicely to:
As if the win over the Lions wasn't historic enough, the evening was capped off with the announcement that it was Patriots Head Coach Paul James 500th league won in the British Basketball League. This monumental archivement confirmed Coach James as the winningest coach in league history, and he was rewarded after the game at center court, with an ice bath, as the squad tipped contents of the Gatorade barrel over him.
Making the Playoffs
In the Patriots first ever season, for the first half of the season wins were hard to come by. In fact the team was without a league win for 2021. New players were added to the roster which sparked a more prosperous 2022, and the team picked up win after win miraculously putting them in with a chance of making the playoffs. It all came down to one final showdown against the former British Basketball League Playoff Champions, the Newcastle Eagles. An epic battle took place that night, as a classic unfolded for a sold out Pavilions. The game was ultimately won by an alley-oop dunk from Rowell Graham-Bell, that could have perhaps occupied a space on this list by itself.
The Patriots took the win and with it a place in the British Basketball League Playoffs in their first ever season, from a seemingly impossible position.
Booman & PJ Top The Charts
A great deal of credit for the Patriots reaching the playoffs in that first season, was down to the player and coach partnership of Head Coach Paul James and the newly acquired guard Antonio “Booman” Williams. Nothing expressed this more than when the pair of them were awarded the Coach and Player of the Month Award for February, 2022. They would be the first in the clubs history to achieve their respective rewards and paved the way for the run to the playoffs.
Double Overtime Win Over Flyers
18th February 2022 was the date for perhaps the most entertaining, stressful and ecstatic night of basketball for the Patriots and their fans. Their opponents and derby rivals, the Bristol Flyers in a game that literally had everything. It was a close game from start to eventual finish, with plenty of drama. At one point things on the court got very heated, and the resulting penalty for the melee was the ejection of both teams' bench players, leaving each side with just five players a piece. At some point the clubs mascot Pat the Dog actually stole a spectators handbag, which he lovingly placed in the middle of the court. In general terms, basketball fans are considered lucky to witness one buzzer beating three pointer, however in this game there were two. Elvisi Dusha hit the first to send the game to it’s first overtime and Rowell Graham-Bell hit the second to send the game into another overtime. The Patriots took that momentum and pulled away in the second overtime period to take the hard fought win 110-103.
The club's captain and in many ways the heart and soul of the club, both on and off the court, Elvisi Dusha was rewarded for his best start to a season in his career with the Player of the Month for November. The Patriots were struggling with injuries and the team captain stepped up in a big way, leading the team in scoring and assists for the first half of the season. His performances were spectacular and his award well deserved. As a result of his tremendous play, Dusha helped lead his team to fourth place in the league table, which is the highest place the club has ever achieved, so far.
In their short existence in professional basketball in Britain, the Patriots have developed a reputation for having some of the best fans in the country. Nothing demonstrates this more than the large number of dedicated travelling fans that have watched their beloved team in every venue in the country. One of the many games that stands out as a great example of this, was back in February 2023, when around 150 Patriots fans headed to Surrey, to spur their team on to a thrilling overtime win, 101-95.
BBL BRITISH TEAM OF THE SEASON
Player of the Month and Coach of the Month achievements are certainly a milestone achievement for any player or club, but being named as one of the best players for the entire
season is a level above. Rowell Graham-Bell gained that exact accolade when he was unveiled as one of the top five British players for the 2021/22 season. He became a key contributor for the Patriots, giving one hundred percent night after night and willing his team to victory and ultimately a spot in the playoffs for that season. It's the highest accolade so far for any Patriot player and was well deserved.
I'm closing, it's been an action packed first one hundred games for the Plymouth City Patriots. The loyal and unwavering fans, the players who have given their all in the teal and black jersey and the countless and indispensable volunteers, who have given up their own time on game days and organised events to show true support for the only professional basketball team in Plymouth. And, there will likely be many more memories and milestone achievements as the Patriots embark on their next one hundred games.
Buy tickets for Patriots 100th game against the Surrey Scorchers here.