To conclude a tricky week of action on the road, Caledonia Gladiators travelled to Bristol to take on the Flyers in Sunday afternoon British Basketball League action, after a huge W just further south-east in Plymouth on Friday evening.
To open the encounter, after a defensive stop from each side, it was Fahro Alihodzic who opened the scoring for Caledonia before Bristol went on a quick run 7-0 thanks to makes from Raphell Thomas-Edwards, Tevin Olison and on-form Brad Greene – forcing a Gareth Murray timeout with just three minutes played. It was Patrick Whelan who eventually broke the host’s 12-0 run with a strong finish of his own. Thomas-Edwards continued his hot start to the game, scoring his 7th point halfway through the opening period, putting Bristol up 12 as the TV timeout was called. For the remainder of the quarter, the Flyers maintained their dominance, despite the Gladiators’ fight with a few buckets of their own. After ten minutes played, the score was 13-26 in favour of the hosts – limited only by a last-second Moore Jr. block on Samuels.
Gladiators went into the second quarter with a point to prove, hitting 8 points in the opening 3 minutes to push themselves back into the game. However, Bristol kept up their standards and scored 7 of their own, as the sides traded buckets to open the period. A highlight slam from Tevin Olison halfway through the second forced another Gareth Murray timeout as Bristol expanded their lead to 18. Bristol really used their high-energy home crowd to their advantage, hitting some huge shots and strong defensive plays to build their advantage. With 20 minutes remaining, Bristol led by 22, winning 50-28.
Perhaps the stat of the half was the sides’ 2-point percentages. Caledonia had only managed 28%, whilst the leading Flyers had hit 48%. Leading the way for the visitors was Patrick Whelan – a Player of the Month nominee – who had 8 points personally.
After the locker room break, it was clear that Caledonia had to get back to the pace and standard the side has built so far this season, with the hopes of getting back into the game. Straight off the mark, it was Patrick Whelan who opened the scoring with a three-ball before a well-worked team move by Bristol finished by Brad Greene. After six minutes of Gladiators’ fight-back, as they led the quarter 14-21, it was a huge Alihodzic slam that finally forced an Andreas Kapoulos timeout as their lead stayed at 15. Bristol’s form from three continued as Trejon Jacob shot two from beyond the arc, expanding the Flyers’ lead to 19 once again. After thirty minutes, the Flyers kept up their advantage – 72-55 after the penultimate quarter’s buzzer.
As the sides headed into the fourth, it was Bristol’s game to lose as they led by 17. The sides began the quarter trading buckets, including an explosive Clifton Moore Jr. dunk, alongside a massive and-one play from Whelan for Gladiators. The visitors, despite trailing, were still showing promise and hope of earning a victory – as they made it an 11-point game, giving fans watching from home a small amount of hope. With buckets and trash-talking traded, it looked much closer to being a Bristol victory as the minutes until full-time reduced. With three minutes to play, a trademark Whelan 3 reduced the Flyers’ lead to 12. Bristol’s dominance however proved too much in the end, as they picked up a huge home win and the Gladiators concluded a challenging week with a tough 94-77 loss on the road.
Once again, GB international Patrick Whelan was awarded the game MVP, leading the Gladiators despite the Flyers’ W. He put up a solid 19 points, 3 rebounds and 6 assists.
Next up, Gareth Murray’s men will welcome Romanian side CSU Sibiu to PlaySport. Get your tickets HERE via the FanBase app, using the EURO50 code for half-price seats.