Flyers edged out by Dragons, despite superb fourth quarter
BRISTOL Academy Flyers had a mixed weekend as they progressed to the National Trophy semi-finals, but were unable to secure their first league victory of the year, despite an incredible fourth period comeback against Bradford.
On Saturday, the Flyers travelled to Bradford to face the Dragons in a Vcars.co.uk Division One match.
Bristol found themselves trailing 15-0 after the first five minutes and even though they managed to cut the deficit by the end of the first quarter, 26-18, a 28-point performance in the second quarter gave Bradford a 15-point lead at half-time, 54-39.
A closely-contested third quarter ended with the Flyers trailing by 16 points.
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It all looked done for the visitors, but a quick 6-0 run with three minutes left in the game launched one of the biggest comebacks in Flyers' history.
Bristol outscored the Dragons in the last quarter 28-13 and had a shot to win the game with two seconds to go, but it rimmed out.
Mostapha Alfaki and Doug McLaughlin-Williams led the comeback for the Flyers with 21 and 20 points respectively, while Fran Robles scored 18.
Flyers coach Andreas Kapoulas praised his players for their effort in the last period, but was not pleased with his team's first-half performance.
He said: "Our players gave everything they had in the last four minutes and again demonstrated the quality we have, even though we were missing some key players.
"However, I think if we had won the game, we would have cheated the game of basketball as our first-half defensive performance was disappointing."
The next day, the Flyers bounced back and secured a 76-72 home win over Medway Park Crusaders to progress to the National Trophy semi-finals.
The game was close throughout, but Bristol secured a ten-point lead early in the fourth quarter, which proved crucial to winning the game. McLaughlin-Williams and Fran Robles led all scorers with 16 points each, while Alfaki had 15.
Kapoulas said: "We are the only team that is still competing in all three competitions and that speaks volumes about the character of our team.
"We have an opportunity to make it to another final this year and that's something we really deserve as a group. Our defensive performance was again not very good, but I got to give it to my players for the resilience and concentration they demonstrated when the game got close at the end."
More great news for the club came from the Flyers Under-18s, who recorded a 100-71 win at Cheshire to progress to the Sureshot Cup semi-finals.
Tamas Okros, an SGS college student, led all scorers with 20 points. The Flyers Under-18s will now face Manchester Magic in February for a place in the final.
Flyers Under-18s coach Guy Coles said: "We played a great game and the players really came to it with complete focus and determination.
"All the athletes are at SGS College and are part of our basketball academy programme. It's great to see their hard work and progress over the season and I am certain with their focus there will be more success coming our way."
Bristol Academy Flyers host Leeds in a league game on Saturday, with tip-off at 7pm at the SGS WISE campus.
For ticket information, please visit www.bristolacademyflyers.co.uk.