Bears steel themselves for a tough campaign

Ben Haigh defends for Warwickshire Bears against Sheffield.
Ben Haigh defends for Warwickshire Bears against Sheffield.

Warwickshire Bears endured a baptism of fire in their first-ever Premier League outing, going down to a crushing 95-32 defeat at League and European champions Sheffield Steelers.

The home side featured players who had helped Great Britain to gold at this year’s World Championships in addition to a number of juniors who represented Great Britain at under-23 level.

However, in the first quarter the Bears were able to play some basketball with both teams employing a zonal defence.

Nevertheless, Steelers’ impressive shooting took them to a commanding 23-12 lead.

Steelers maximised the pressure on the Bears with a full-court man-to-man press in the second period, forcing the visitors into a number of errors, while scoring freely themselves to go into the break with a resounding 51-16 advantage.

There was no let up in the impressive full-court pressing in the third quarter as the Steelers moved 79-24 up and the final quarter was all about pride for the Bears as they fought to keep their hosts below three figures.

They at least achieved that aim and coach Tom Masterson said it had been a huge wake-up call for his newly promoted side.

“Wow that was a welcome to the Premier League,” said Masterson. “I really can’t complain about the result or effort from the team, seeing as they are playing against professional players who are world champions and a team that are European champions.

“It is going to be a tough season this year but we need to choose the games we might have a chance to win.”

Earlier in the day, Bears 3 suffered a 46-33 defeat to the Steelers 4 team in Division Three Central.