We want to get better every day – Coach James

Plymouth Raiders secured their first win in the BBL Cup Southern Group this season against the Surrey Scorchers with a 96-91 victory at the Pavilions.

The home fans were treated to another nail-biting encounter with Raiders playing their second BBL Cup match at home, and both sides looking for their first win in the competition.

Raiders had started the Cup with one loss to London City Royals. Likewise, the Scorchers had started their season with two losses from two games against Worcester Wolves and Bristol Flyers.

Raiders started with Josh Wilcher, Rashad Hassan, Kostas Jonuska, Denzel Ubiaro and Theo Turner, while the Scorchers lined up with James Hawthorne, Chavares Flanigan, Tayo Ogedengbe, Marcus White and Skyler White.

Hawthorne won the tip off for the Scorchers and an early dunk by Ogedengbe put them in the lead.

Raiders put their mark on the game with a Hassan dunk, before a Wilcher lay-up brought the sides level.

From this moment forward, another shot by Hassan and free-throws by Johnson and Wilcher saw the sides tied at the end of the first quarter, 22-22.

Jeremy Nanton-Hamel after the break put the Scorchers back in the lead who were soon in front by nine. After an impressive three-pointer by Palmer and successful free-throws from Johnson the Raiders brought it back to 37-37, with less than five minutes left in the half.

After a timeout and numerous substitutions, a lay-up by Hassan put Raiders back in the lead at the buzzer, 47-45.

Jonuska opened the third quarter with a three, which kept Raiders in the lead at 50-45. But following more free-throws and a three from White, Scorchers closed to within two points of their hosts.

Henry Wilkins then again tied things at 62-62 with only 3:19 left. After a tense end to the third quarter, Raiders narrowly took the lead again at 73-70.

Ubiaro started the scoring off in the fourth quarter with a lay-up, but after a number of points from the foul line, the Scorchers took the lead with only eight minutes remaining.

With both teams battling it out down the stretch, it was 91-91 with only 34 seconds remaining.

A number of fouls and an offensive rebound from Hawthorn, saw him ejected from the game along with Ogedengbe after both accumulated the maximum five fouls.

The resulting free-throws enabled Raiders to take a vital late lead, and ultimately the game, at 96-91.

Raiders coach, Paul James, was clearly happy with his team’s performance saying: “We have to keep working; we were better this game than the last time we were here two weeks ago and for the game with Bristol, we have to be better again.

“We will go away, do our homework and train next week. Hopefully Jackson will be back in the line-up and we will go to Bristol with a full-strength team.

“We want to get better every day, and be the best version of ourselves, as long as we are making those small steps, those progresses, I am going to be happy. And today was one of those.”

Plymouth Raiders continue their BBL cup action this Friday at Bristol’s SGS College Arena against the Flyers.

Raiders scorers: Wilcher 30, Hassan 26, Johnson 19, Ubiaro 10, Jonuska 6, Palmer 3, Turner 2.

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