Ipswich Basketball Club fall to shock defeat at home to Eastside Eagles

Sam Newman driving against Eastside

Sam Newman driving against Eastside - Credit: Archant

EBL Division Two Ipswich 83 Eastside Eagles 87 Ipswich stayed top of National Basketball League Division Two despite a shock loss at home to mid-table Eastside Eagles on Saturday.

Luke Mascall-Wright soars in to dunk against Eastside Eagles

Luke Mascall-Wright soars in to dunk against Eastside Eagles - Credit: Archant

Ipswich went into the game with a 7-1 record, feeling confident that their opponents, who lost by 25 points last weekend against Derby Arrows, would be no match for them – and it was that confidence that appeared to be a key factor in the under-par performance and eventual loss.

The game wasn’t without its drama, even before the opening tip. Eastside were stuck in a traffic jam on the A12, meaning that the Ipswich side, already out on the court and going through their warm up routine at 3.45pm, had to wait more than two hours to get the game started.

When the game did eventually start it was clear that Eastside, playing with a chip on their shoulder after their horrific journey, were the more ‘up for it’ of the two teams, although that didn’t stop Leigh Greenan opening the game with a thunderous dunk.

The guests answered and went on a 9-2 run to start the game, with Ipswich seemingly playing little or no defence.

After a time out by Ipswich coach Nick Drane, things changed and the Suffolk side gradually worked their way back into the game, eventually finishing the quarter tied at 21.

In the second quarter, despite clearly not hitting top gear, Ipswich began to grasp control of the game, opening up an eight point advantage before Eastside clawed their way back.

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Eastside were limiting the touches of big Greenan, so it was left to Sam Newman (19 points), Luke Mascall-Wright (16) and skipper Tom Sadler to lead the scoring.

When Greenan (16 points) did get the ball, the outcome, as so often is the case, was a thunderous slam. However, Ipswich were not clicking, poor defence and unnecessary fouls allowed Eastside to stay in the game.

The powerful Craig Pringle and professional Taner Adu caused the baulk of the problems for Ipswich, while guard Lukas Volskis was also hurting the home side. Ipswich took a 44-42 lead into the interval.

The third quarter started with Ipswich opening a 12-point lead, and the crowd could have been forgiven for believing that this was game over. However, again Ipswich couldn’t hold on to their lead. They won the quarter and were in control, although it certainly was not a comfortable lead at 68-62.

With five minutes to play Ipswich still led by three.

However, a chain of events led to a complete momentum change in the game’s final minutes. Sadler picked up his fifth foul, and was fouled out the home team losing their on-court leader and calming influence.

With two minutes to play the game was tied before a pair of technical fouls were called on the Ipswich bench.

Suddenly Eastside led by three and in the closing moments Ipswich missed a pair of layups and had to foul to put the Eagles on the foul line, where they calmly sank their shots.

Eastside ended up stealing the game, with a 87-83 win.

A frustrated Drane said: “The reason we lost that game was because we played badly, especially at the defensive end of the floor.”

Ipswich host previously undefeated London Lituanica next Saturday in what is now a crunch match. The Lithuanians lost their first game of the season on Saturday night in Derbyshire and have a record of 5-1 while Ipswich sit at the top of the league with a 7-2 record.

Captain Sadler said: “Our motto all season has been to just focus on the next game and not think about league, playoffs and promotions.

“Coach set us the goal of being top at Christmas, so we need to win on Saturday.

“If we go into the break with three home losses, it will be a very tough second half of the season – but with them losing this weekend, 8-2 puts us in great shape.”

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