|Home Team||Raptors - National|
|Visitor Team||Birmingham Mets|
|Match Date||Saturday, 25 January 2014 - 17:15|
|Match Score||91 - 59|
Following the disappointing semi final defeat last week Raptors were keen to bounce back in this weekend’s crucial game against Birmingham Mets. With Raptors sitting in third position in the league behind top placed Birmingham this was a critical game in the Raptors hunt for promotion. In recent week Raptors have added shooting guard Josh Houghton, and high flying athletic forward Ty Taiwo, but had lost key big men Tom Sutton to an extended trip abroad and John Lindsay to a broken wrist.
The Mets are a tall physical team who have only lost three games all season, but the Raptors we able to control the game from start to finish with significantly improved defence and a great team offensive performance. The Raptors started quickly and led 20-10 before a 4 point last five seconds in the first quarter resulted in a 20-14 first quarter Raptors lead. In the second quarter Steven Gayle, Conor Porter, Josh Houghton and Anthony Kuczaj led the way as the Raptors poured in 29 points and held the Mets to just 8. With a half time lead of 49-22 the Raptors were keen to cement the win in the second half and take a small step toward promotion. The Raptors won the third quarter 21-12 as their defence continued to stifle the Mets offensive efforts. Conor Porter consistently frustrated the Mets guards with his defensive pressure and consistency and did a brilliant job of setting the tone for the rest of the team. Despite a mini revival from the Mets in the fourth quarter the Raptors won the game comfortably 91-59 to the delight of the players, coaching staff and fans.
Coach Ken Masser explained; “The first half was one of the best performances that we’ve put together this season. We played very well. At half time we worked hard to keep the players grounded and focussed as we knew Birmingham would come back strong. To their credit, the guys continued to be aggressive and executed our game plan at both ends of the floor, and we got an important and encouraging win. We’ve been working hard to improve our defensive intensity and togetherness, and the players are starting to really gel as a unit. We have a good group but there are some very talented and determined teams in this league. We have seven tough games left and we’re determined to take them one at a time. ”
Raptors travel to Northants Thunder next Saturday where a win will put the Raptors two games clear at the top of National League Division 3.