Scorchers fought to the end in a close encounter at Surrey Sports Park on Good Friday, as they fell to a last minute 82-85 defeat to title contenders Leicester Riders.
US import Mike Anderson posted his first double-double for the Scorchers with 12 rebounds & 15 points, while KC Ross-Miller also netted 22 big ones.
Despite the result, Coach Creon Raftopoulos was honest about his side’s performance: “Another tough loss but it just shows the growing pains that we have. Leicester had Andrew Sullivan who showed his experience in the end and that proved to be the difference.
“I can’t really knock my guys for anything. They executed the game plan to the tee and that’s just the way the season’s gone for us. I appreciate the support from the fans, they were absolutely amazing, and hopefully we’ll be able to get them a win against Glasgow [Rocks] and Leeds [Force], so they can go home with smiles on their faces.”
Scorchers took an early lead, putting 11 unanswered points on the scoreboard before Riders settled. Scorchers held their own for the first quarter, keeping Leicester 3 points down at the end with 21 points to 18.
Captain Tayo Ogedengbe passed a massive milestone in his career in Q2, achieving 1000 rebounds in the BBL Championship, leading Scorchers to a 43-39 lead at half time to give the home side much determination for a victory.
Scorchers stayed strong throughout the second half, Schlitzer scoring three triples in a row to keep up with Riders going 48-54 to 57-60 in 2 minutes. The team held Leicester to within 2 points at the end of Q3.
Surrey struggled in the opening minutes of the final quarter, with Leicester leading 6 points, before the team make up the deficit in incredible fashion, from 63-69 to a 79-78 lead. With just 46.1 seconds left on the clock, Scorchers led by 1, before a massive Ogedengbe three from the sideline, giving Scorchers a 4 point advantage with 25.4 seconds to go.
Hearts broke around Surrey Sports Park as a crucial final 20 seconds proved pivotal in the tie. A run of fouls gave the Riders seven unanswered points and they took a 3 point victory against a courageous Scorchers side.
When asked for his MVP, Coach Creon said: “It’s hard to pick a stand-out player from today’s performance, I think everybody contributed.
“It was nice to see Mike Anderson step up because he’s been very passive in his first few games for us. KC Ross-Miller continues to lead from a scoring point of view and Tayo [Ogedengbe] showed his bid as a Captain. I can’t not mention Jordan & Andreas because they’re the only two natural big players that we have, so all-in-all just a great team performance. I’m gutted for the guys and we’ll just keep on fighting.”
There’s no Easter break for Scorchers as they hit the road for a trip to Manchester Giants on Sunday afternoon (6pm tip-off) in a clash that could see Scorchers rise off the bottom of the table with a win.