Rhondda Rebels 68 Delta Basket Alessandria 74

30.10.2002

Rhondda Rebels staged a stunning fight back from fifteen points down in the third quarter, to lead by six, but agonizingly their Italian guests recovered in the final quarter to snatch a six point victory.

There was little sign of the drama to come, during the opening quarter in which defences were dominant, and though the Rebels held Delta Basket to a mere fourteen points, they could only muster nine themselves, as they appeared overawed in front of basket. Indeed, trailing 3-12 with 2:45 to play, the interval margin of five could be considered the first fight back of the game.

With Shelley Boston, playing her first game since returning to the Rebels earlier in the week, finding her feet quickly, Rhondda remained in contention throughout the second quarter, and with Megan Compain unaccountably quiet, it was Boston and Missy Lender who shouldered most of the scoring load.

American Brooke Reeves, however, was showing an excellent touch, and her nine points in the quarter, together with six from Greek guard Anastasia Kostaki, kept them in control.

The home side stayed close until a couple of minutes from the break, but five unanswered points from Reeves gave Alessandria the biggest lead of the game, at 28-37, and only Compain's first field goal, 22 seconds from the break, followed by some tough Rhonda defence, made the margin more respectable, at 30-37.

Early in the third, Delta Basket appeared to be taking control, as Kostaki showed superb control and great accuracy with a flurry of points that helped her side to an unanswered eight-point opening, for a fifteen point advantage, 30-45.

Tetyana Zotova finally broke the run, with a clean "3" from the corner, and as Missy Lender began to find some room inside, the Rebels steadied to 39-50. Shelley Boston then drained a "trey" which sparked an amazing fifteen point run, including another "3" from Zotova, and Compain's first score of the quarter - also from 3-point range (which levelled the scores at 50-all).

Suddenly the game had a totally new complexion, with the home side leading 54-50!

Compain had at last begun to drive into the key, and that paid dividends as Alessandria gave up a succession of fouls, and six of six from the stripe took her to 13 points for the game - and Rebels into the third quarter break leading 58-52.

Asjha Jones, suffering from flu, was pushed into the game by the visitors for the final quarter, and her presence, fast hands, and shooting touch made an immediate impact, and her eight points in the quarter were to prove crucial.

Rhondda held on to 65-61, with 4:39 to play, but as they began to tire they had already spurned several chances to extend the margin further, and when a charging foul by Zotova was followed by a turn-around jumper by Jones, to level at 65, you could almost feel the onset of self-doubt in the Rebels team. Jones (2 of 2) put Delta Basket back ahead, and though Compain levelled the scores again, with three minutes to play, the momentum was now with the visitors, and as the home side's shots became ever more desperate, so the margin grew, with the 1-7 run in those closing minutes leaving a scoreline that did not truly reflect the magnificent effort and performance by the Rebels.

Despite the defeat, Rhondda can be proud of their performance, and the Italian team certainly knew that they had been fully extended.


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