To start the day’s double-header, Gareth Murray’s Gladiators’ side looked to bounce back from their last British Basketball League loss, as they welcomed Sheffield Sharks to PlaySport – the side who defeated them heavily at their own new arena last week. And bounce back they did, with a resounding victory led by game MVP Lukas Palyza.
Beginning the game with a Gladiators-won tip-off, it was Czech international Lukas Palyza who got the hosts off the mark for their first points of the game. Following on, Gladiators made a run in the opening five minutes to give them an early, but narrow, lead, with the Sharks biting back at every opportunity. Straight off the mark, Patrick Whelan made a strong start, with 7 points in the opening quarter. After ten minutes of play, Gladiators led 20-17.
Thanks to some high-energy plays from Clifton Moore and Trent Buttrick, the Gladiators managed to expand slightly upon their earlier-gained lead. However, Sheffield continued to go bucket-for-bucket and halfway through the second quarter, a huge three from Kipper Nichols got them back within five points. Following a Gareth Murray technical, the quarter’s TV timeout was called. For the remainder of the quarter, it was Atiba Lyons’ Sharks who took advantage, with massive plays from Kipper Nichols, Devearl Ramsey and Jalon Pipkins. After twenty minutes of play, the sides headed to the locker room with the score 35-33. In the first half, field goal percentage told the story of how close the game was, with the visitors leading the category slightly at 46%, compared to the Gladiators’ 43%.
It was in the third quarter that the Gladiators continued to build their advantage as strong team basketball led to easy buckets for Gareth Murray’s side on a number of occasions. Points came from all through the roster, and in addition to some defensive stops, Caledonia had built up a double-digit lead with a few minutes to play in the quarter. By the time of the third-period buzzer, Gladiators, with a 14-point advantage, led the game 60-46. However, it was far from over, as Kipper Nichols was keeping his side in the game, with 13 points to his name.
As the final ten minutes of regular time started, Gladiators led the way in bench points (21-8), points in the paint (26-16), and points from turnovers (13-4). Atiba Lyons’ side hoped to get back in the game, with a double-digit deficit to recover. However, a Clifton Moore bucket forced a timeout with 8 minutes to play, as the Gladiators continued to build on momentum. As for the rest of the quarter, it was the Sharks who bounced back and brought it to a tied game with 7 seconds to play. With Ian DuBose missing the final shot of regular time, the game headed to overtime – the Gladiators’ first this season. During the game’s action, Trent Buttrick went down with an injury with around five minutes to play in the fourth and was sidelined for the remainder of the game.
To begin overtime, the Gladiators managed a few big buckets, giving them an early seven-point lead halfway through the game’s fifth period. The sides continued to battle, as they had done in the 40 minutes beforehand, but Gladiators remained on the front foot for the remainder of overtime. Upon the final buzzer, Gladiators had secured a 87-83 win.
Now, the sides are 1-1 on the season record, with the third game of four overall to be played in a few weeks’ time.
Next up for the Gladiators, they welcome FIBA Europe Cup champions, Anwil Włocławek to PlaySport on Wednesday for their first home European fixture, having defeated CSU Sibiu in Romania last week. Tickets are selling fast, so secure your seats HERE!