This was a tough test for Glasgow, as the winners of this three-way play-off between Glasgow, Newcastle and Birmingham Universities determines who will play in the Premier League next season.
With the prospect of playing basketball in the upper echelons of the University league, this game had a lot riding on its outcome. If anyone was in any doubt as to Glasgow’s right to a place at the top table, they only had to view this victory to witness a team who could more than hold their own against the best of the British teams.
A steely Glasgow side set the pace for this game from the first quarter to the last. An initial change to the starting lineup by coach Lawton, including dropping Keliquskas to the subs bench, allowed Glasgow to dominate the opening play and the team displayed to their play-off rivals that they meant business. Glasgow opened up their points tally when Garthwaite sprayed a well-aimed chest pass out to an aggressive Kubisz, who showed some quick feet and brilliantly nimble play to break through the Newcastle defence and notch up Glasgow’s first two points of the game.
Newcastle’s Cots managed to peg Glasgow back with a three-pointer, but after this setback Glasgow kept up their relentless pace and punished the Geordies’ sloppy defending. At the heart of Glasgow’s attacking play was point-guard Archer, who epitomised the gallant determination of Glasgow. He fought all night for his team and was involved in most of the build up play for their points, not to mention doing his level best to antagonise the heart of Newcastle’s defence.
Archer also converted two free throws after being fouled towards the end of the first quarter, which ended after seeing points scored by Arstromskas, Ghamgosar and Spangevicius. Newcastle managed to peg scores bag in the period with some accurate three-pointers, but it ended Glasgow 23 - 12 Newcastle.
The second quarter started with Glasgow fouling Newcastle, who seized the opportunity and managed to get a quick point on the scoreboard. However point-guard Archer was on hand to rally his team, calling his team for a play of “ice”, a tactic straight from coach Lawton’s playbook. The move proved to be a success as Glasgow scored a fantastic three more points to the total. The man on hand to convert the play to points was Keliquskas, who had now started this second quarter.
It seemed a bold tactical move by Lawton to initially bench Keliquskas, but the time spent kicking his heels had certainly done him no harm. As coach Lawton explained: “He was our best player tonight, he really is our go-to scorer, but I made the decision to start him from the bench as the last two games he has hit a bit of a slump and returned with a total of just six points and nine points”.
The coach was vindicated in his move, as Keliquskas normally bags double and treble that amount per game - his stint on the sidelines certainly seemed to fire him up, and he went on to score an incredible 34 points for Glasgow at the Kelvin Hall on Wednesday.
The second quarter ended with Newcastle slowly creeping their way back into the game, but the period ended with the scores at Glasgow 41 - 30 Newcastle.
The third quarter saw Glasgow bag a quick 2 points from Archer. They continued to punish Newcastle, who simply could not cope with the relentless pace and drive of this Glasgow team. With less than four minutes played a time out was called and both teams regrouped. When play recommenced, it was business as usual as Glasgow sailed into a 20 point lead with help from Archer, Arstromskas, Spangevicious and the “go to guy” Keliquskas, who chipped in with another exquisite 3 pointer to end the quarter Glasgow 70 - Newcastle 41.
By this time Newcastle looked down and out. Their bench fell silent and they looked dejected as they saw out the final minutes of the third quarter. I don’t suppose this was helped any by the growing home support who chanted for Glasgow from the high level viewing gallery.
The fourth and final quarter saw a bit of a come back from Newcastle, but nothing to really frighten Glasgow. Their coach was shouting for them to “keep the heads up” and it seemed to work as they bagged more two- and three-pointers. A time out was called on the five minute mark with the scores at 75 - 49. Glasgow knew victory was in sight and when play resumed they regained control and possession.
This play was rewarded with a sublime two-pointer by Garthwaite, who scored after the ball had been passed between every Glasgow player. some might say it was showboating, but it was more a case of displaying a confidence on the ball and a willingness to win from the home team. The game ended Glasgow 79 - 56 Newcastle.