Barking & Dagenham Erkenwald 68
Erkenwald's Founders Cup defence started with a set-back at home to a youthful Northampton side, as a strong first half showing was overshadowed by a second half collapse that saw the visitors rally from 44-30 down at the half, to take a 10 point lead into the final period, as the Erks offense melted down against Fire's zone defence.
The Erks only started 2 of their first 5 from last year's final 4, with crucially the entire guard rotation from last year's triumph missing. Sharp-shooters Shab Niaz and Mark Denchfield will both play no part this year, as Shab has entered his Harlow side in the competition & he'll be playing against the Erks in December. Mark is now playing in the NBL with Eastside Eagles and as such is ineligible for the Founders Cup, although his scoreboard operating and Martin Fowler impersonation skills were in full effect on Sunday. The final member of the Erks backcourt, veteran Steve Herd, was away pursuing his other main hobby, eating, at
From the outset, the younger Northampton side put pressure on the ball, however the Erks coped without too many problems and Dave Churches went to work inside, using his height advantage to dominate early on. Forward Ed Bailey was also in good form, his top of the key jump shot firing on all cylinders as he hit all 9 of his points in the first half. As the Fire defence extended further down the floor, the Erks patented press break came into operation and shockingly proved effective, Martin Overare being left with lay-up after lay-up as the Erks passed their way down the floor, a 13-1 run to end the half giving the Erks a 44-30 advantage.
However, the key to the game was the visitors switch to a zone defence in the second half. With Churches being crowded out around the basket and Overare being left without any room to drive around the baseline, the visitors dared the Erks to make an outside shot. Unfortunately, aside from a couple of Churches treys, nobody took up the challenge, as veteran guard combo McCusker, Glennard and Atkinson with a combined age of 125, struggled to make an offensive impact. In the meantime, the visitors feasted on a succession of ill-advised shots to get their fast break going and with their confidence on a high, they took the lead and extended it with 3 successive treys, closing the quarter with a 9-0 run to lead 61-51.
The final quarter was a scrappy affair, with the Erks closing to 6 points at one stage, however with only Churches forming a real offensive threat in a half court offense due in part to the Erks guard's refusal to give Ed Bailey the ball at any stage, the hosts were never likely to score enough points, and the visitors ran out deserved 77-68 winners.
The return of Steve Herd and new point guard Adrian Leclair, should give the Erks more offensive firepower in future games, however without their 2 outside bombers, and with an ageing team who lack the hunger that was finally satisfied with Erks triumph in last years final, it's difficult to see the Erks qualifying for the knock-out stages this time around.
"Garbage Time" Dave Churches 31, Martin "Mr Consistency" Overare 20, Ed "Offensive Powerhouse" Bailey 9, Gary "take it strong to the hoop" Glennard 4, Dela "Cannon Ball" Agbolegbe 3, Declan "shot-jump" McCusker 1.
Report posted: 28/10/05