Barking Abbey’s hot start burns Cats

Barking Abbey’s Division 4 men’s team put on a show in Cambridge for the second weekend running hammering the Cambridge Cats 104-61 in the Long Road Sports Centre.

The visitors set the tone early with a 17-5 lead in the opening minutes forcing Cambridge Head Coach Sam Richardson to call a timeout, but nothing the hosts could do would stem the tide of three-pointers flowing from the young London outfit. Abbey was led on the floor by their captain Robin Bedford, who had a game-high 18 points in their last trip to Cambridge last weekend when they dispatched Anglia Ruskin University.

Bedford did a great job of bringing the ball up the floor and creating openings with his distribution, which had the Cats on their heels early allowing for a barrage of three-point shots that saw Barking Abbey with a 20 point lead at the end of ten minutes, 40-20. Mieliauskas and Petrauskas were particularly deadly from three-point land from early on, whilst Ade Adebayo was able to use his power and pace to score and create problems in the paint.

Barking Abbey was hot out of the gate, but their play was built on a foundation of a high tempo, pressing defence, especially out of timeouts, moving to a full court press with double teams.

The second quarter saw an improvement for the hosts as the Cats limited Abbey to 29 points whilst scoring 18 of their own. Player-Coach Sam Richardson was a constant presence for Cambridge club, but a lot of the second quarter was built around solid work in the paint from Jack Daley on both ends of the floor. Daley would go on to score 18 points, as linking up well with forward Jack Daley, the two players combining for a total of 52 points in the game. Petrauskas, Bedford and Matzuikas were three of the big players in the second quarter for the visitors.

The third quarter saw James Vear’s side limit the hosts to just 7 points, but with starters being rested thanks to a healthy lead, Abbey was held to 19 points. Cambridge took until midway through the quarter to get their first points on the board and it was made more respectable with a deep three from Richardson.

Cambridge played their best basketball in the second half when they were able to slow the pace a little and move the ball to get the looks they wanted. Barking Abbey, scored consistently throughout the night and in the first half in particular, were lights out from three.

The game was clean throughout, with just one foul-out. Cats’ Lucas Rons had been flirting with foul trouble during the second half and eventually fouled out and received a bench technical in the process for whooping as he left the floor.

The final quarter was the only one won by the Cats, 18-16 in part due to the otherwise stellar shooter Petrauskas, who ended with a team-high 22 points going cold in the final period and Vear rotated his side in preparation of the Quarter Final in the Shield his young charges play on Sunday.  Richardson took it upon himself to start “heaving them up” from three and was “lucky enough they went” as he finished with a game-high 34 points.

Richardson saw the tie as a great warm-up for their derby in two weeks with Anglia Ruskin University. “We always get hyped for the local derby…it’s going to be a good one. We adjusted to it [Barking’s defence] and we started moving the ball, passing, screening doing all the right positive things. We couldn’t have asked for a better game to set us up for the local derby.”

James Vear was pleased to take the win and get chance to rest his starters, “Defensively first half we were particularly great, but offensively we hit a lot of shots and I think that overshadowed how poor we were defensively in that first half. Second half we were way better and offensively a little poorer in the second half. Overall I think we can take some positives out of it.”

Cambridge has a week off next week before making the short trip across town to Kelsey Kerridge to face Anglia Ruskin University. Barking Abbey faces off against the East London All Stars at the UEL Sportsdock in the Shield Quarter Final and hosts the Folkstone Saints on the 27th.

Sam Richardson’s full interview can be heard on SoundCloud.

James Vear’s full interview can be heard on SoundCloud.

The full game commentary can be heard on SoundCloud.

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