The Plymouth City Patriots picked up their first win of the season Sunday afternoon over the impressive Sheffield Sharks, but not before suffering a defeat to the Manchester Giants.
Friday night saw the Patriots take to their home court for the first time this season, with an expectant crowd also looking for their first win. The visitors, Manchester Giants, were also hungry for their first win of the season, and would ultimately take the spoils. It was a close affair, with the exception of the early running, with the Patriots looking the better of the two teams after the opening tip off. Despite the home side holding a double digit lead, the Giants applied their usual brand of tough, hard nosed basketball and bullied themselves into the lead. A lead they would never relinquish. Despite three straight threes from Patriots starting point guard Mason Faulkner late in the game, the Giants held on for a 73-77 win. The highlight of the game for the Patriots was the return of Joe Hart, after an injury that has kept him sidelined for over a year. He capped off his return by nailing his first three point attempt, and the roof of Pavilions was lifted by the admiring boisterous Patriots fans.
Sunday's game of the double header was perhaps the harder of the two fixtures. The Sheffield Sharks have made a number of late additions to their team, and have picked up a pair of wins prior to arriving in Plymouth. The game itself had a close, nervy first quarter, with neither side able to put their stamp on the game, that was until the second quarter began. The Patriots hit the Sharks with a barrage of threes, starting with DeAndre Johnson, who would go on to have his best performance of the seasonso far, finishimg the game with 20 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists. Despite the Sharks clawing away at the insurmountable lead built by the home team, the Patriots would hold on for the win and their first victory of the season. Final score, 92-87.
"It's been coming..." started head coach Paul James, referring to his team's first win. He continued, "... We've gradually improved. We gave away our last two games, but we got it together today." He summed up the game by saying "we built up a strong lead, though we always knew Sheffield would come back, but we weathered the storm. For us to be a good team we need everyone to contribute. We didn't have that Friday against Manchester, today we did and it was a real team performance." Indeed the Patriots had four of the starting five in double figures, TJ Atwood, DeAndre Johnson, Taylor Johnson, Jacob Wiley and Mason Faulkner. Faulkner was particularly impressive across both games, and post game he had a message for the home fans, saying "This gym is electric man! I love all the Patriots fans, the energy they bring, the environment. It can't get any better than playing in Plymouth on gameday, it's really beautiful and I'm blessed to be her for sure."
The win Sunday night had lifted the Patriots from the bottom of the league table and they have a week to prepare themselves before taking on the Bristol Flyers at Pavilions in the much anticipated South West Derby.
Written by Pablo Cheeks.