Bradford, who are still awaiting the arrival of some key players, struggled to take any sort of control in the game and Manchester’s lead extended at the end of each quarter. The final score of 51-80, against the Dragons, was reflective of a poor overall performance from Bradford, brightened only by Šulcs, who was the game’s top scorer with 21 points.
Following Saturday’s disappointment, a determined Bradford team took to the floor for their National Cup first round game on Sunday afternoon. Their opposition, Sefton Stars, who ply their trade in Basketball England’s division 3, were expected to provide a tough test for Mellor’s team. However, the Dragons started the game strongly and some precise shooting from Spaniard Miguel Lorenzo opened up an early lead. Bradford were dominant throughout the first half of the game and a buzzer beater, from youngster Zion Tordoff, right on half-time, had the crowd on their feet. Bradford went into the break with a 51-30 advantage.
The second half of the game continued in much the same vein, and Bradford had opened up a 29 point lead by the end of the third quarter. With the game all but won, Dragons threw on youth players, Tordoff and Eisley Swaine, for the final seven minutes. These two outstanding prospects combined for the play of the game, as a defence cutting pass from young Swaine teed Tordoff up for two more points.
The Merseysiders closed the gap to 27 by the close of the game, with Dragons enjoying a well-deserved victory by 90 points to 63. Once again, Rihards Šulcs lead the scoring with 28 points, ably supported by newcomers Lorenzo (18 points) and John Bantock (16 points).
Coach Mellor was far more upbeat after this game. “We played much better than we did the previous night. Our defence overall was much better and it was good to get some points on the board, giving some guys confidence early in the season. We’ve still got some players lacking match fitness, but this game will have helped bring them a step closer.”
Bradford will now face Killamarsh Derbyshire Arrows in the second round of the National Cup, with the game to be played on Sunday October 5th.
The Dragons step on to the court again next Saturday (27th) in another National Trophy game against Derby Trailblazers. Tip off is at 6:15pm at the Dragons Den, Bradford College Sports Hall, Trinity Road, Bradford.