Royals pipped at the post
PUBLISHED: 08:29 23 October 2018 | UPDATED: 08:29 23 October 2018
London City Royals put a brave face on back-to-back losses at Leicester Riders and Cheshire Phoenix over the weekend.
Led by point guard Elvisi Dusha and American shooting guard import Dayshonee Much, the visitors rattled in 20 points against European contenders Leicester without reply to take a 27-14 lead.
With three minutes left the Royals were still 67-58 ahead but, after the Riders had reduced the deficit to just one point, the key moment in a pulsating game saw top scorer Matt Bryan-Amaning race free on his own.
It was odds-on that Bryan-Amaning would add another two decisive points with just 30 seconds to go.
But Deandre Burnett somehow made an audacious block and Leicester fought back to first force overtime and then run out 83-79 winners.
Within 24 hours the disappointed Royals were “outhustled” 98-86 by Cheshire, who scored 28 points off of their opponents’ turnovers as the Royals gave up 17 compared to just 16 assists.
Not surprisingly, the two defeats left Royals’ skipper Orlan Jackman in reflective mood.
He said: “The weekend results were hard to take, but take them we will and focus on being tougher, both mentally and physically, when we host Worcester Wolves in the cup a week on Saturday.
“I thought it was a foul on Matt at Leicester and that incident, much as we tried to play through it, was like a big momentum shift.
“Basically, it took the wind out of our sails.
“Leicester exploited that and we played into their hands.They took us out of their defence, spread us so were playing in isolation – and that’s not good.
“In basketball loss of focus often has a domino effect and leads to high emotions when actually we’ve all been taught to harness amnesia if a bad thing goes against you.
“Namely, forget it.
“Then came the Cheshire game and everyone knows that there is a ‘drop-off ‘factor in the second of back-to-back games.
“They out-hustled us, but the fact is what happened at Leicester deflected us.”
Top scorers for the Royals against European hopeful Riders were Much (17), with Bryan-Amaning and Dusha both on the 16 point mark.
Bryan-Amaning (28) and centre Will Neighbour (25) came up trumps against Phoenix, with Much again to the fore with 19 points.
Next up for the Royals is British Basketball League Cup first round tie with Worcester Wolves at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre on Saturday, November 3 (7.30pm).
Added Jackman: “Our job now is concentrate on our toughness, both mentally and physically.
“Our league record stands at 3-3 and we all think it should be better than that. Five of our games have been on the road but we must deal with what is put in front of us.”
Influential shooting guard A J Roberts (groin) and point guard Ed Lucas (mandatory rest following concussive scare) should be back to face Worcester.