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Report: Bristol Flyers 85-80 Plymouth Raiders

Bristol Flyers opened their 2016/17 BBL season with a home win against their south west rivals, Plymouth Raiders 85-80 on Saturday night.

Flyers took to the SGS WISE arena as a different looking team from the one that finished the 2015/16 season. With a cast of new faces and a relatively short pre-season, the home squad focused on building chemistry and starting the season strong with a win.

Both squads came out with the best intentions, but started the game cold. It took a turn around fade-away jump-shot by Lovell Cook to break the deadlock. Though Flyers would struggle going 4 for 13 in the early goings.

Back to back three-pointers from Hameed Ali and a break away slam dunk from Brandon Boggs woke Bristol up, and the raucous home crowd. Plymouth continued to unravel offensively, shooting 30% from the field and Bristol took full advantage. The fast start put Bristol up 25-17 at the break.

The second quarter began at a furious pace, Flyers slashing straight to the basket, highlighted by an emphatic Boggs dunk over the outstretched arms of the Plymouth defence. Though Plymouth countered from long range, hitting timely three-pointers to close the gap to three points mid way through the period. Unlike the first quarter, the visitors stayed in the game and after an impressive alley-oop lay-up from Raiders' Cory Dixon, they took the lead. Flyers snatched the lead back just before half time. On his way to 12 first half points, Ali brought the score to 43-39 with a three-pointer, then a slashing lay-up.

Due to a tumble just before the half, Greg Streete did not return to the court. Boggs notched a quick four points inside, followed by a huge rejection by Flyers' big man, Daniel Edozie. Plymouth worked the ball around the outside and found open looks but couldn't convert. Frustrated, the visitors drove at the Flyers' defence with relative success, tying the game at 50 points a piece. After a tightly contested quarter, Bristol found themselves heading into the fourth with a slim two point lead.

The final quarter began with the teams at a stalemate, unable to open the game up. Bristol became more aggressive on defence, stripping the ball loose and blocking wayward Raiders' shots. However, the home team racked up three quick fouls, putting Plymouth at the free-throw line, aiding their fourth quarter charge. Raiders made a conscious effort to attack the basket drawing more fouls and getting Bristol into the penalty early. Flyers fought back, Ali driving baseline for a tidy dish to Boggs for the score. Bristol took the lead back, with Leslee Smith and Cook both converting on And-1s. As the contest entered into the final moments, the game entered a frenzy. Bristol turned the ball over allowing Plymouth to come within two points. But with 17 seconds remaining in the game, Ali hit two clutch free-throws to ice the game. Flyers opened their 2016/17 season with an impressive hard fought win.