As an athlete there are some nights were you are on and others where you just don't have it. Collectively, as a team, the Montreal Sasquat'ch were as cold as our weather lately. Nothing their hot blooded coach Alejandro Hasbani attempted to do could warm them up. Try as he might by pounding on the floor during time out huddles, pacing up and down the sideline imploring them on or yelling at the referees, who he obviously was not impressed with, changed anything.
The loss by the Montreal team by the score of 131-113 had nothing to do with the refereeing or even the cold weather. It had all to do with the Sasquat'ch's inability to play strong defence and the hot shooting of Manchester's reserve point guard Tommy Mitchell. The fact that he was the man who led the Millrats to victory must have been especially hurtful to the Sasquat'ch as he played for their predecessors the ABA Montreal Royal last season.
The two teams had met at the beginning of the month with Montreal winning that contest 100-97. With the strong play of Tommy Mitchell (27 points), Sam Carey (16 points), PJ Young (15 points), and Desmond Ferguson (21 points) the Millrats turned the table on the home team this time around.
The game started off well enough for the Sasquat'ch with them matching the Millrats basket for basket, but then they seemed to fall apart defensively at the same time the Millrats' shooting heated up. With a 9-0 run the Millrats went ahead with a lead they would never relinquish. The score at halftime was Manchester 58 and Montreal 50.
Montreal's game on defense was not aided by the fact that centre Xavier Morton, who was wearing a knee brace, seemed to have plenty of mobility problems to go along with his poor conditioning. At 310 pounds he is quite a force in the middle, but he cannot keep up with the play. Morton has to get himself into better shape to become the force he could be in the offensive and defensive paint for his team.
The Montreal defense as a whole was poor and gave up too many easy baskets. This problem was compounded by starting point guard Lantrice Green's many turnovers. He did not deal with the Manchester defensive pressure well and his turnovers led to several easy baskets on the transition for Manchester. I would not even begin to blame one player as no one on the Montreal team seemed to be on the same page on this evening.
By the 3rd quarter the lead had swelled to as much as 25 points and Montreal could not get it closer than 16 for the rest of the game. It was around this point that Montreal's coach Hasbani started focusing on what he thought was a poor job by the officials. Yes, I agree that they blew some calls, but they certainly were not the reason the Sasquat'ch lost. The team began to follow Hasbani's lead, especially guard Randy Gill, and question each call by the refs as opposed to focusing on playing the game. The Sasquat'ch were a totally frustrated team.
During the 4th quarter Hasbani rested all his starters, some like Gill and forward John Ruffus looked less than pleased, in an effort to save them for their game the next evening. The loss leaves the Montreal Sasquat'ch with a 2-3 record going into today's game against the 3-3 Vermont Frost Heaves, who they lost against 133-110 earlier this month. Here's to hoping that they can come back with a stronger effort than they had on this evening.
-Scoring by Quarter: 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Total
Montreal: 19 31 27 36 113
Manchester: 24 34 38 35 131
Montreal: Jamaal Wise 20
Randy Gill 19
Denburk Reid 0
Manchester: Tommy Mitchell 27
Desmond Ferguson 21
Sam Carey 16
PJ Young 15