The Plymouth City Patriots were in action Sunday night, taking on the Bristol Flyers, in what has become the must watch South West Derby and in the past has offered a feisty affair, with plenty of drama and physical play.
The first half at Pavilions certainly did not disappoint as both sides played with plenty of intensity. Indeed the defensive levels at both ends of the floor made scoring difficult, and despite the Patriots leading for the majority of the early running, it was the Flyers that took a slender two point lead going into half time.
The second half started with a great deal of promise, after all the Patriots had been more than hanging in there with their South West rivals. Unfortunately the visiting Flyers had other ideas and as the half began, they quickly annulled any potential threat from the home team Patriots. Former Patriot Rowell Graham-Bell played a large role for the visitors, helping them race away to a seventeen point lead by the end of the third quarter.
Despite a gallant effort by TJ Atwood, who was statistically the best player on the court, finishing the game with a spectacular 30 points, 12 rebounds and 2 steals, as well as shooting 68 percent from the floor. His performance was simply not matched by the rest of the Plymouth side. Only Mason Faulkner, who notched up an impressive 10 assists, came anywhere near Atwoods stellar performance. The Patriots wound up losing 63-92 to Bristol, for the second time in a row, losing previously in mid September by seventeen.
“I thought the first quarter we were good. We played with a lot of energy offensively and defensively and we shared the ball and more importantly scored the ball...” started Head Coach Paul James in his post game interview. He then highlighted where things seem to go wrong from his perspective, saying “... Second and third quarter we just couldn’t score the ball. It wasn’t that we weren’t getting good looks, but the ball just wasn’t falling for us. When you’re chasing a team like Bristol who are good, it makes it a lot more difficult.” He added, “Too many players had a bad scoring night and that didn’t help us.”
TJ Atwood, who was named the Patriots MVP for the game, was also not in the highest of spirits despite his great performance, saying “I don’t really like to count my own stats... especially if we lose like this. It’s pretty embarrassing. However, I know we have a lot of room to get better and we have a lot of work to do this week... I might be without sleep for a couple of nights while we figure this one out...”
Atwood and the guys will indeed need to figure some things out, and quickly. It’s less than a week before the Patriots will once again be in action and once again the opponents will be the Bristol Flyers, who will head to Pavilions next Sunday. The Patriots will need to take game three of the series, to give them a chance to tie things up when the two sides meet for the fourth final time in the league, scheduled for the end of March.
Pablo Cheeks (below the rim podcast)