The NBL1 Cobra Men have split their Round 11 doubleheader weekend, recording a remarkable come from behind road victory over Ringwood and falling just short to Mt Gambier at home.
Facing Ringwood on Friday night, the Cobras grit and determination – and a red-hot Adi Tomada – was on full display as they overcame a 19 point deficit to down the Hawks, 78-74.
Suffering from an ice-cold shooting start, the Cobras were only able to muster eight first quarter points, and found themselves down 34-15 midway through the second period. Looking for answers, the Cobras turned to Tim Lang to ignite their offence for a second consecutive game, with the veteran big man catching fire for 15 points during the second and third periods to help Kilsyth eat into the Hawks seemingly insurmountable lead.
Trailing, 46-56 heading into the final stanza, Lang passed the spotlight to Tomada, who went en fuego during a ridiculous five minute stretch to erase all that was left of the Ringwood lead. Draining tough jumpers and getting to the rim at will, Tomada scored 16 consecutive points to open the fourth – and 19 points over the first five minutes of the period – to pull the Cobras to within 67-68 with 4:30 left on the clock. Then it was time for Mitch Dielemans, to take centre stage, with the electric point guard pulling out some late game heroics for the second straight game as he jumped the passing lanes for a steal and score, followed by a three pointer to tie the game at 72 apiece with just over two minutes remaining.
With Ringwood zeroing in on Tomada and Dielemans late, Lang took charge once again, stuffing the Hawks on back-to-back possessions with a pair of blocks, and adding a free throw to give the Cobras a one point lead with 90seconds remaining. The bruising centre then delivered the dagger to the Hawks, muscling his way inside for a finish to put Kilsyth ahead, 75-72 in the final 30 seconds. Free throws by Dielemans and Tomada in the final moments put the finishing touches on an incredible fourth quarter performance, giving the Cobras their second consecutive win.
While the Cobras looked down and out early, head coach Pete Godfrey remained confident in his team’s ability to climb out of their first half hole, focusing on the possession-by-possession mindset that has been emphasised since preseason.
“If you were in the stadium you might have reached the conclusion that the game was done at that stage (down 34-15),” Godfrey said.
“One of the things that we hold onto as a group though is that we are never out of a contest. We managed to trim 19 back to 11 at the half, holding Ringwood to six points in the last five minutes of the second quarter.Tim had kept us from being completely blown out in the first half, and Adi found a whole other level in the last quarter to nudge us ahead late in the game.”
Tomada’s fourth quarter heroics saw him finish Friday’s game with 26 points, while Lang recorded 18 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, and Dielemans added 10 points and seven assists.
Facing a quick turnaround at home, the Cobras were unable to duplicate Friday’s late game heroics, falling short against the Mt Gambier Pioneers, 77-87, on Saturday.
With the talented Pioneers starting red hot from the field, the Cobras found themselves trailing by 11 at the half. And despite multiple efforts to trim the deficit late, the Pioneers had a timely answer for every Kilsyth mini-run, with their experienced, championship tested group dealing the Cobras their fourth loss of the season.
“They got off to a clean and impressive start; pushing the ball, getting through their system, and finding and making great shots,” Godrey said.
“They are loaded with talent; quality shooters, experienced ball carriers, one of the few – and likely one of the best – imports in the competition. All of that said, the Pioneers biggest lead was 14 and the margins at the breaks were five, 11, and seven, respectively, so we absolutely never felt that we were out of the contest but we couldn’t find a way to get under that seven point margin.”
Despite the loss at home, there were a number of positive takeaways for Godfrey and co. Ben Ursich regained the touch from the perimeter as he buried a season-best five three pointers on his way to a 19 point night, Lang (13 points, four assists) backed up Friday’s big night with another solid showing, and Dielemans and Deng Riak each added 12 points. The Cobras were also able to hold the league’s hottest offence to 87 points – 13 below the Pioneers season average – while also finding crunch time minutes for new signing, Deng Deng, who joined the team on earlier on game day.
“Our major takeaways from that game are that we trimmed 13 points off their average scoreline, and that Mt Gambier had its best overall shooting performance for the year, one field goal and one free throw away from 50/40/90 shooting splits,” Godfrey added.
Respect where respect is due – they are well prepared, well drilled and shot the ball exceptionally well.”
“Mitch was again really good for us off the bench, and Ben showed again what he is capable of at this levelagainst a high quality team. We welcomed Deng Deng too, and having met most of the fellas just 90 minutes or so earlier, he will certainly add to our arsenal after a couple of practice sessions with the team.”
The Cobras record now sits at 6-4, good for seventh in the league standings. They return home on Saturday night to take on Ringwood for Indigenous Round with the Cobras set to play in limited edition jerseys featuring indigenous inspired artwork.
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