Wasps Sting Lions
By Tom Jameson
Monday 24 Jan 2011 15:01:00
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TADEA Middlesbrough Lions suffered their second consecutive defeat when they fell just short of the mark in front of another cracking crowd at Eston Sports Academy.

 

TADEA Middlesbrough Lions 78-85 Hull Wasps

 

The Lions held a 4pt lead at the first quarter and had seemingly solved their defensive and rebounding frailties from previous games. Hull rescued those 4pts in the second quarter and the scorers were all square at the interval 37-37. In the third period Middlesbrough fell behind by 4pts but came back strong in the final period after being down 10pts with three minutes remaining. With a minute to go, Lions produced a 10-3 run to bring the home side within 2pts against one of the leagues best teams who had only been beaten three times this season.

 

The following referee’s decisions though were strange and harsh to say the least leaving an angered look from Lions chief; James Thomson, a deflated look from his players, a look of disbelief from the 250+ crowd and even a puzzled look from the Wasps.

 

The first crucial call occurred as Ashley Rice brushed by Lions Tom Robinson who had his hands up to allow the player by after losing his footing and despite the Hull star running off un-impeded a foul was called meaning Robinson would have to leave the game with 5 personals and Rice would go to the line for two free throws. The barrage of noise from the crowd encouraged a miss from his first attempt, although Rice would compose himself to make the second.

 

This took the game to 75-80 but a big 3-pointer from Lions DaWaun Wells reduced the deficit to just 2pts with just 15 seconds remaining. A spectacular finish was on the cards until the next referee’s decision.

 

The next call brought about the controversy as Lions Ben Robinson attempted to steal the ball from Miles Anderson who was running a fast break. The Middlesbrough guard did well to hustle back and his reward was a call for un-sportsmanlike foul meaning the Wasps were awarded shots plus possession and effectively killing the game for Middlesbrough.

 

Middlesbrough coach; James Thomson was then given a technical foul for questioning the decision and then left the arena in disgust.

 

The topic continued after the game with Lions fans leaving the game with shaking heads and disappointment not because it was a loss, not because it was a poor display but because an opportunity for an exciting finish and a possible victory was taken away.

 

 

After the game Coach Thomson gave his view “I still don’t understand how a genuine attempt to steal the ball can be given as unsportsmanlike. If the act was malicious or in anyway untoward I would accept the call and blame the player myself, but we had two genuine attempts for the ball in that game which were called unsportsmanlike and I think it’s wrong. When Hull did the same thing to us in the third period, no unsportsmanlike was awarded which is inconsistent and a little frustrating.”

 

The official ruling is that if the ball is on the opposite side to the defender and the defender is the last man back, any contact will be awarded as an unsportsmanlike foul if contact is made while dribbling. “Nonsense is all I can say” added Thomson “If contact is made, the offending player should be punished and that punishment is a personal foul with possession being awarded to the victim. How am I supposed to coach players in a situation as precarious and volatile as that? Do I tell my players to not hustle back and play defence but to just let the player score, especially when its vital we stop them scoring? It was never an unsportsmanlike foul on the two occasions they were awarded and if that is the rule, then it needs to be changed!”

 

When asked why he left the arena, the coach clarified he wasn’t sent off. “After the last call, I had to leave otherwise I may have said something I would later regret. I am normally quite calm and reserved and usually defend officials due to the difficult nature of their job, but I must admit I was very wound up and the best thing for me to do was calm down somewhere else. I didn’t want to offend the crowd, who were again superb.”

 

Middlesbrough did well to almost upset a side who are championship contenders. An understrength and under par TADEA Lions could have pipped the game at the end and this was in no small part due to the superb performance from Tom Robinson. The 6’4 guard was in a determined mood from the start with 13pts in the first quarter and finishing head and shoulder above any other player with 35pts. Robinson actually scored more points than the two top scorers combined from Hull. This was enough to receive the game MVP, an award that is rarely given to a player from the losing side.

 

The difference in the game was that Hull enjoyed five players hitting double figures while only two managed it for Middlesbrough. DaWaun Wells produced a spirited rally at the end and hit 8pts to bring his total to 17 but the American missed a lot of shots. A sore wrist may have been the cause and the club will be hoping this will be healed in time for Durham on Sunday.

 

This Saturday TADEA Lions players will be in Middlesbrough town centre, handing out leaflets and prizes to shoppers with the aid of sponsors Heaven Scent Yankee Candles. The basketball stars will be in the town from 11.30am and are promoting the next home game which is on Sunday 6th February against Liverpool. For more details visit www.middlesbroughlions.com or call 01642 814221.

 

(Photos - Paul Gaythorpe)

 

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