By Nikos Silikas
"Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art."
This was a much anticipated re-match, of last season’s play-off final. Atlas had to do it without the services of ‘silky smooth’ Mr Sutton and thus be deprived of his customary double-double on points and rebounds. Falcons started the game by scoring their first 3 shots (all 3-pointers), and having an early lead of 9-4. This lead however, proved to be short lived. Stockport unleashed their fury and had a phenomenal 28-5 run for the rest of the quarter. The quarter finished with a 32-14 lead for Stockport and even at such an early stage the game was effectively over. With Mr Sutton missing, Stockport had to rely on their other two big scorers, Neil ‘powerhouse’ Siddall and Max ‘volcano’ Gougeguel. In fact they combined to score 8 of the first 14 points of the team. That was meant to be their main contribution! Neil was withdrawn after 7 minutes and did not return to the game as there was no need to use him. Max came back in the third to treat everybody to a spectacular block on the unfortunate young Travis. Interestingly, Falcons finished the quarter by only scoring 3-pointers and free-throws!
In the second quarter the two teams were happy to exchange baskets and finished the quarter with 20 a piece, thus at half-time Stockport had a healthy lead of 52-34.
The second half was pretty much the same. The two teams were fairly level at scoring. Stockport won both quarters. The third by 24-23 and the fourth by 20-18. The third was marked by a crescendo in blocks by Stockport where it seemed that any shot inside the key was blocked.
The game finished at 96-75 and a comfortable win for Stockport Atlas.
The two main guards Alex and PB spearheaded the offense for Stockport orchestrating some very efficient fast breaks. Despite the absence/low key presence of the top three scorers, Stockport still had 5 ½ players on double figures (1/2 was on 9 points..).
Kyriakos Neanides was top scorer with 18 points, followed closely by Noel Power with16 points and a dominating presence under the basket on both ends of the court. Thomas Christensen had 12 points, a few steals and brought lots of energy into the team. Matt Beever also had 12 being very efficient in his shooting and covering all areas in defense. Marcus Cureton had 10 and treated us to some classic offensive moves leaving his opponents dazed and confused. Our ½ reliable PB had 9 points despite resting for large chunks of the game.
It is only fair to notice the excellent performance of Mr Humphreys from the opposition that not only led his team in scoring, but single handedly kept them as an organized outfit till the very end.
3-pointers are often overrated and this game showed that very poignantly. The team that scored 12 3-pointers lost to the team that scored 3! Another myth regarding 3-pointers and high scoring games was busted since the team with 3 3-pointers scored 96 points! Falcons had disproportionate a lot more free-throws compared to Stockport (considering they were losing and were a smaller team). They could only manage though 11/25 free throws (44%). Stockport had 7/10 (70%). Falcons scored 2/3 of their points from either 3-pointers or free-throws!
Stockport enjoyed a few pints after the game analyzing it in a rather jubilant mood.