On Saturday, the Dragons travelled to face the Warriors in their opening National Trophy, northern pool match-up. As is so often the case during these early stages of the season, both teams were still awaiting the arrival of key players, however the Dragons included three new faces in their roster.
Spanish guard, Adria Rodriguez Vinas, formerly of Reading Rockets, and Belgium Henri Bongoma were both in the Dragons’ starting five, whilst giant 6’6” Polish forward, Przemyslaw Wojcik, also made a valuable contribution, entering the fray from the bench.
Head coach, Chris Mellor said, “I’m happy with the win. We started well at both ends of the court and I thought we controlled the game at our own pace. But, we made a lot of defensive mistakes and we fatigued towards the end, due to the starters having to play big minutes. Leicester are still waiting for key players to arrive, but it’s something for us to build upon.”
The following day, Bradford took the short journey to Doncaster to face the Eagles in the first round of the National Cup. Doncaster were promoted to division three at the end of last season, two divisions below Bradford, having completed the season unbeaten. However, despite the difference in divisions the Dragons were expecting a tough game.
The travelling Dragons had the better of the first quarter, building up a ten point lead by the first break (16-26). The second period followed a similar pattern with Mellor’s team going back to the locker room with a healthy 19 point advantage, at 34-53.
However, Doncaster, who included former Dragon Oliver Hylands in their line-up, were far from finished and came back onto court with the bit between their teeth. Whilst the Dragons struggled to hit their shots, their hosts strung together a nine point unanswered run, to pull the game back to within 5 points. Bradford managed to pull together a run of their own, just before the final interval and the penultimate quarter finished at 62-73 in the Dragons’ favour.
The Eagles come out strongly again in the final period, but despite their best efforts the Dragons held on to take the victory, 81-89, setting up a tasty second round game at division one rivals, Manchester Magic.
Evergreen, Jason Swaine topped the scoring for the Dragons with 22 points, whilst Laing and Bongoma added 18 points each, with Vinas contributing a further 16 points.
Following the victory coach Mellor commented, “We knew it would be a very difficult game, so we had the right mentality and I thought we played really well in the first half to be 19 points up. They (Doncaster) never went away but we always managed to keep our noses in front. On that showing, the Eagles will be very tough opposition for everyone in division three this year and I wish them all the best for the season ahead.”
Next weekend the Dragons travel to Middlesbrough, to face the Tees Valley Mohawks in another National Trophy northern pool game.