Men's National Cup round-up: Canary Wharf eliminate champions Leopards
The third round of the Men’s National Cup concluded this past weekend with several close games seeing eight teams advance to the quarter finals.
The biggest upset of the weekend saw Division 3 side Canary Wharf London Lituanica defeat 2012 National Cup champions Essex Leopards 73-70 at the Brentwood Centre. A close game throughout saw Canary Wharf seal the win in the final 15 seconds when Arturas Sidagis sunk a pair of clutch free throws giving his side the 73-70 advantage. Leopards player-coach Robert Youngblood came out of his timeout with a play designed for Carl Josey, but the guard was covered by the Canary Wharf defence forcing Youngblood to heave up a prayer which wasn't answered.
Other third round games seeing Division 1 teams up against lower tiered opponents included Hemel Storm holding off Newham Neptunes (Division 2) 85-81, Derby Trailblazers beating Loughborough Students Riders (Division 2) 78-65 and Bristol Academy Flyers eliminating Worcester Wolves II (Division 3) 72-64.
Hemel's associate head coach, Mark Lloyd was impressed with NASSA:
"They have a good record of knocking Division 1 opponents out of the Cup and their current team would certainly do well in the top division. But I think their physical play worked to their disadvantage in the end and it turned out to be a hard fought win for us. We struggled to contain their outstanding Lithuanian import [Karolis Stepanavicius] in the open court but down the stretch we got stops and made important offensive plays. It was an excellent all-round team effort."
Derby assistant coach Steve Baxter was also happy with his team’s performance against Loughborough:
“I was delighted with our bounce-back effort against Loughborough. There were still far too many turnovers but we generally shot the ball a lot more competently than the previous night. When we shoot the ball better it gives our defence that little bit more time to set up and I felt this was demonstrated against the Riders.”
Andreas Kapoulas, head coach of Bristol gave praise to the young Worcester Wolves II side:
“As I said to the Worcester coach if his team plays like this all the time, they will not be in Division 3 for too long. They have a very talented team and some very determined young players. I really liked the way they approached the game and they almost punished our complacency.”
An all-Division 2 third round tie saw Mansfield Giants beat Manchester Magic at the Amaechi Centre 82-68. Giants player-coach Dan Richards was happy with the win after a disappointing loss in their opening game of the season:
“Defensively we were much better,” he said. “This has to be the bench mark of how we need to play every game. Offensively we executed well, although it wasn't our best shooting night but it was a great team effort. Hopefully the loss against Capital has woken us up and we can now start performing night-in, night-out.”
In the Division 1 match-ups, Worthing Thunder defeated Westminster Warriors 77-74, Reading Rockets beat Leicester Warriors 78-76, and Leeds Carnegie outlasted Tees Valley Mohawks 87-83.
“Admittedly preparation was bad,” said Thunder head coach Daniel Hildreth after the game. “We arrived later than I wanted us to but importantly we started well and were up early and in control but missed so many easy chances.
“We made a couple of lazy mistakes and made the game closer than it should have been, but we stuck together in the tough times and came away with the win which is great as it gives us that confidence boost heading in to next week and indeed the quarter-finals which is a fantastic achievement for these boys.”