LIONS’ dismal start to life under head coach Mike New continued on Friday as Glasgow Rocks left town victorious.
Slumping to their seventh loss from nine Championship games, Lions were made to pay for their woeful start as Rocks opened up a 22-2 first quarter lead and never looked back, going on to win 97-88.
Chief executive Vince Macaulay reiterated before the match that a play-off place was the ‘minimum’ ‘expectation’ for New season, but their second home humbling in as many games leaves Lions with an uphill battle to achieve that.
Latest recruit Demarius Bolds had an impressive opening night on the floor at the Lions Arena, but not even his debut 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists could prevent a fourth straight Championship loss.
The Rocks opened up strongly and while they found their range the hosts were struggling out of the blocks - Lions didn’t register a basket until the scoreboard at their Winterhill venue showed 0-14 to the visitors.
Shawn Myers hit a two pointer to register their first score on the night, but the gap kept increasing and soon the Scottish side were 22-2 in front.
The tension showed as scoring opportunities were missed while unnecessary passes saw chances go begging. Often Lions’ players got into shooting position - only for them to look for someone else to pass the ball to - but when they did switch to more direct style of play they did find ways to score.
But the first quarter ended with Michael Kingma tipping-in at the death to make it a 20-point game at 16-36 to Rocks.
Bolds began to find his range and the second quarter got tasty as a foul by Rocks player/coach Sterling Davis on Travis Nelson didn’t go down very well with the Lions man who confronted Davis.
Nelson duly scored the two free throws and Lions set about trying to reduce the deficit. However, the visitors were playing with plenty of confidence and six players hit net from the three-point line.
Despite some strong play from Nelson and the lightning speed of Bolds, the gap was still the same at the half (35-55) - Lions still to register a triple of their own.
Hampered by foul trouble in the first half, Lions’ Stefan Gill finally hit his side a three pointer a few minutes later, but still they could not find a sustainable rally.
On a drive for the basket from Bolds, Brice Fantazia was called for an unsportsmanlike foul, but another Rocks score meant New’s men were still at arms length.
Lions eventually gave the home supporters hope in the last period by starting a comeback from all of 23 points behind. Yorick Williams hit a three, Shawn Myers followed suit, and the deficit reduced down to 14 as numerous fouls from the visitors’ Scott Russell allowed the momentum to shift Lions’ way.
But time was the enemy now as Rocks lost focus, albeit knowing that they would not lose the game and Lions ended the contest nine points adrift.
Bolds showed his pedigree and fight while Nelson shrugged off a midweek head injury to lead the scoring with 24 points.
This was the first of four home games on the spin for Lions who will need a major improvement to stand a chance against defending BBL champions Newcastle Eagles on Friday (7.30pm tip-off) before Worcester Wolves visit on Sunday for a 5pm start.