Caledonia 116-110 Phoenix: Coach lifts lid on off-court sessions which paved way for dramatic overtime win

Caledonia made it five BBL wins on the bounce as they defeated Cheshire Phoenix in overtime on a dramatic night at the Playsport Arena.
Caledonia Gladiators made it five wins from five with an overtime victory over Cheshire Phoenix. Cr. Caledonia Gladiators.Caledonia Gladiators made it five wins from five with an overtime victory over Cheshire Phoenix. Cr. Caledonia Gladiators.
Caledonia Gladiators made it five wins from five with an overtime victory over Cheshire Phoenix. Cr. Caledonia Gladiators.

Head coach Gareth Murray admits momentum is building at the perfect time for his Caledonia Gladiators side after their pulsating 116-110 win over Cheshire Phoenix on Sunday.

A close contest looked set to end in disappointment as Phoenix led during the final seconds of regulation time. However, when Lukáš Palyza hit home a last-second three pointer to force a breath-taking game into overtime, Murray’s side emerged victorious

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“Confidence is a huge thing in most sports but especially in basketball,” said Murray. “Guys that are shooting the ball well have unlimited confidence, they can shoot from wherever and play great basketball. It is the same for the team, when you have that chemistry and camaraderie in the team and you have fight back wins like tonight. It just builds the team stronger and stronger.”

The win saw the third place Gladiators move level on wins with the visitors at 21-12. However, EJ Stephens’ three pointer with 0.2 seconds on the clock would see Phoenix level the tiebreaker, meaning the head-to-head will now come down to points difference - and the Phoenix currently hold an 80 point margin.

That said, Gladiators can still grab that all-important second spot ahead of the play-offs should they continue their winning streak and Phoenix slip up.

Murray lifted the lid on the ‘off court’ sessions he believes will help super-charge their upcoming play-off campaign, while he also praised the role the Caledonia fans played in another big win - as he encouraged more Scottish fans to join the party in East Kilbride.

“We’ve done a lot of team chemistry. We had a sport physiologist on Tuesday,” he told The Scotsman. “We are trying to build a culture in the group and that has showed today. These extra sessions we do during the week that aren’t necessarily on the basketball court is paying dividends for us as well.

“I’ve been in Glasgow for nearly 20 years maybe and some people don’t even know there’s a professional basketball team in the city. So come check it out the games, I’m sure you’ll be hooked. You can see from the games tonight how exciting it is. It’s back and forth, it has pace, tonight goes to overtime. Come along, you may like it or maybe you won’t. But I’m sure if you come and you like it, you’re going to get hooked.”

BBL player of the month Quade Green was once again pivotal to his side’s win, hitting a season best of 37 points alongside Fraser Malcolm who enjoyed a huge return to the starting five by scoring 23 points and eight rebounds - plus a game high return of 66 per cent from the field. Green, nicknamed ‘Money’ by fans after his astonishing start to life in Scotland, mirrored the words of head coach Murray after another MVP performance.

“The crowd brought the energy today,” beamed the popular guard. “We knew we had to close it out so people could go home and enjoy their Sunday and start the week off right. They came with energy and we feed off it, we felt that momentum throughout the game and we embraced that.

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“Momentum is definitely a big thing. We can all feel it, we are just growing everyday. The play-offs are going to be tough games just like today was a tough game. We’re getting prepared now with the games we have. Since I have been here, there’s been a lot of tough games. Winning these games and knowing how to fight, looking forward our team identity is the biggest thing going into the play-offs.

“We got to keep practicing, keep coming in every day and doing our individual work in practice. We just got to keep being a team collective because it could be anyone on the night. Fraser (Malcolm) had 23 points today, we have too many weapons on the team.”



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