Tigers showed their strength of character to dig out this vital victory, after having looked, at one stage, as though they had thrown away a comfortable win.
You can watch the full game video here or View it on Vimeo. The match report continues below.
For the first two and a half quarters Taunton had the game completely under control. They hit the home team hard right from the outset and they raced out to a 9 – 1 lead in the opening 2.5 minutes. Tigers defensive dominance continued for the rest of the quarter, with the result that the Leopards could only muster 8 points by the break and trailed by 11.
London did get their offence going in the second quarter but, as Chris Page took his first half points tally to 22 points, Tigers extended their lead to 45 – 31 at half–time.
5 minutes into the second half, 2 free–throws from Adam Rickwood put Taunton ahead by a massive 18 points (54 – 36) and the game should have been over as a contest. What followed, though, was a potentially disastrous 0 – 14 run which was caused by a combination of Tigers turning the ball over and Leopards capitalising with some brilliant 3–point shooting. Simon Kearney broke the run just before the final break but London sensed that the momentum had shifted their way as the fourth quarter began.
Nothing would fall for Taunton until Tim Clifford hit a pivotal 3–pointer 4.5 minutes into the quarter. Leopards did complete their comeback and tie the game 63 – 63 with just 3:42 remaining in the game, but Tigers refused to crumble to what would have been a shattering defeat. Crucially, the next points went to Taunton's Kearney and Rickwood then followed up with a 3 pointer to push his side 5 points ahead. London kept the pressure by making it 68 – 65 with 1:46 still on the clock, but Page steadied the nerves scoring 2 points from close range and then adding 2 more from the free–throw line.
Coach Tom Kambouris reflected on the achievement,
“Afterwards in the dressing room we all talked about how this was a character win. How sometimes, even if you stop playing well, you can still chisel out a victory with great effort and determination. We are starting to understand how important it is to have heart and character when closing out games.”