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Inter Basket London (50) 93
Coventry Crusaders (36) 80

Despite a recent league victory against Inter Basket, a sluggish Crusaders performance meant they lost the initiative in the first leg of this National Trophy tie.

Rodney Alexander, a major Inter threat, proved to be too much of a handful as he netted 23 points.

Bupa Crusaders coach Dip Donaldson knew that Alexander would contribute in a major way to I-B’s play, but hadn’t expected the Crusaders to come out so flat.

Crusaders were a step slower than their opponents, defensively, as I-B drove to the basket relentlessly.

Their team defence was very poor and that is something that Donaldson will make a major focus in training this week.

He said:

“Our defensive reaction and positioning as a unit was poor which resulted in individuals picking up unnecessary fouls.

Todd Sands“Todd Sands (right) fouled out and was not able to make a significant impact on the team, although he did finish up with 10 points. 

“Alvin Scott picked up three early fouls in the first half but was still able to continue to play on last year’s All Star pace, finishing with 12 points.

“In hindsight I should have put Scott on Alexander like I had originally planned, but an injury to Derrick’s calf muscle during training this week kept him out of the starting line-up and changes were made all around.

Adam Stevens“Adam Stevens (right) played with four fouls and wasn’t able to play as aggressively as I would have liked.

“We will also be working on being more aggressive - without the fouls as we train this week.”

In the National Trophy Cup this season, the top two teams will go through from each pool, so Crusaders have another chance to beat I-B by more than 13 points when they come to Coventry in a couple weeks time. 

In the second half Crusaders outscored I-B 44-43, but with the 14 points deficit at half time to make up, and playing away from home it became too much of a hill to climb.

One highlight was Manny Sharland, who did another great job on defence, keeping captain Mike Redd of I-B to 13 points. He contributed well on offence too.

Donaldson said there were a lot of lessons to be learned:

“Crusaders were 0 for 10 from the 3 point line, didn’t rebound well, and didn’t play aggressive team defence, all which comes from players just thinking it would happen instead of making it happen.

“It was a good learning curve, how to play on the road, and how to face a team you’ve beat badly. 

"I’m sure we will be back on form by the time they come back to Coventry in the return match of the trophy."

Crusaders scorers: Stevens 21, Pope 12, Scott 12, Sands 10, Sharland 9, Collins 8, Davis 5, Livingston 3

 This weekend's clash - when Manchester comes to town, will feel like a top of the league battle, even though the season runs until May.

Manchester won their first league game by 24 points which almost equalled Crusaders’ first league win by 27 points.

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CWN / Sport / Basketball / Coventry Crusaders / 26 Sep 00

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This page modified on 10 November 2008 09:49:15AM