In an essential BBL Championship matchup, Gladiators welcomed Bristol Flyers to the Emirates Arena. Coach Kapoulos’ Flyers were heading into the game hoping to maintain their spot in second place, whilst Gareth Murray’s Trophy winning side were looking to keep up their top four spot.
After Malcolm Delpeche won the tip for the visitors, he opened the accounts with a hookshot. One of the top players from the Trophy Final, Prince Onwas evened the scoring with a layup of his own. For the remainder of the first, the sides went back-and-forth, however it was Gareth Murray’s side who took a further advantage after ten minutes. They had a six-point lead, 24-18, thanks to solid play all round and backing from a strong home crowd.
In the second ten, their hot-fire form continued. High energy plays on the court converted to the Emirates Arena crowd. The hosts led by 14 points at their first-half peak, dominating the first twenty minutes on the majority of statistics. Heading into the locker room, Gareth Murray must have been pleased, as his side maintained a nine point advantage over the higher-seeded Bristol team, who had just came off a huge win over league winners, London Lions.
Heading into the third, Bristol brought themselves back into the game. After five minutes played, the visitors dragged the score back to a four point deficit with the support of their travelling fans, forcing a Gladiators Dizzyfish timeout to be called. Basket-for-basket trades continued throughout the remainder of the quarter, but it was the hosts who came out of thirty minutes with a slim three-point lead thanks to a handful of made free throws in the quarter’s final minutes.
With the game, and playoff seeding spots on the line, the fourth quarter was as intense as ever. But it was the home side who prevailed in front of a buzzing Emirates crowd. High energy plays all round got the team across the line as they improve their push for fourth place, whilst Bristol will continue to aim for second.