Heading into this match the form book had Raptors as the dominant force – having beaten every team they had met so far by at least 68 clear points.
So they came to the Brewers confident – but maybe too confident. Facing one of the North Wales Basketball Association’s best defences they couldn’t build any major momentum as the game started tight.
The Brewers stood toe-to-toe with their visitors and refused to back down, not allowing the Raptors to have things their own way.
Under stand-in coach Ben Scott, Luke Sharland-Wong stepped up to the mark, establishing himself inside and earning a solid 10 points for the game on his way to MVP.
The Brewers shared the ball well but could have done better with the early rebounds, with a couple of fast breaks separating the teams at the end of the first quarter, the Raptors leading 14-19.
In the second the Brewers took tight defence to a new level. They worked hard to lock down the Raptors and give themselves a chance to get into the game and it proved successful. They restricted the away side to just 10 points for the quarter.
This clearly frustrated the Raptors, leading their own MVP Andrius Palionis to get into foul trouble.
Unfortunately, despite Niel Gillard hitting his shots on the way to a 17-point haul, the Brewers were not clinical enough on the offensive end and didn’t capitalise on their outstanding defence. As a result, they trailed by a still respectable seven points at the half.
In the third the Raptors came out looking to gear up their offence and it worked. They put together a strong early-quarter display to pull away a little, but thanks to that tough Brewers defence they were only able to extend their lead by 10.
Going into the final quarter the Brewers felt if they could put together a run of offence the game could at least go down to the wire.
They worked hard at it but the wily Raptors knew they just needed to see the game out and that’s what they did. They managed to frustrate the Brewers’ attempts to close the gap and in the end escaped with a 22-point victory.
Scott after the game was full of praise for the Brewers.
“We know where we have fallen down and the opportunities we have let slide there,” he said. “But this team needs to be oroud of what we did do. We faced a team that has scored over 100 points in every game this season, a team that has not won by less than a 68-point margin in this campaign, and we held them to 66 points, only losing by 22 points.
“Of course losing hurts – and it would have been great to take points off the Raptors as they are deservedly one of the leading teams in the league – but as a coach I have to look at the performance and what we did well. We showed tonight that we too are one of the leading sides in North Wales.
“We gave ourselves a chance in this game, now we need to go away and work on the reasons we were not able to caitalise on it. But rest assured we will come back stronger from this defeat.”