The Danum Eagles fell to 0-2 in Men’s NBL Division 2 action with an 80-93 loss against the Kent Crusaders on Saturday.
In a hard fought loss, the Crusaders proved too much for the Eagles on the day, with forward John Shopido scoring a game-high 37 points.
The Eagles started well, creating open looks for shooters and not turning the ball over. However, early missed layups and free-throws allowed the Crusaders fast-break opportunities, which they scored 10 points from in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the two teams were initially trading buckets including plays from forward Mathew Martin, who hit a fadeaway jumpshot to beat the shot clock and guard Paul Walsh beating his defender with a head-fake before finishing nicely in the paint.
Towards the end of the half, Eagles turnovers led to easy transition baskets for Crusaders, with Shopido finishing on drives to the rim and being fouled.
The Eagles went into the half with a point 15 deficit.
Whatever coaches Bob Martin and Ross Stafford said to their guys at the half certainly showed. The Eagles started the half more aggressive whilst drawing fouls and got off to an 8-0 run, with Tom Hodson and Liam Knapp hitting consecutive 3-pointers.
Early in the third, Crusaders star man Shopido picked up his third foul and left the game. In his absence, Kent only managed two points in five minutes.
The momentum had shifted towards the Eagles later on in the 3rd when the Eagles bench were fired up courtesy of a Brandon Smith and-1 and a Josh Metcalf deep 3-pointer.
In the fourth quarter, the Eagles had pulled it back to a 4-point game.
However, the Crusaders made huge plays on defence, with Mohammad Adamu making a chase-down block and finishing at the other end.
Kent’s intensity on defence caused turnovers, which led to easy transition baskets, giving them an 18-point lead with 6 minutes to go.
Turnovers and impressive Crusaders defence late on made it difficult for the Eagles to surge a late comeback, and the Eagles fell short.