THE Portsmouth Fury have lost their first match in the SABA division one, falling to the Southampton Eagles 92-75 at Portsmouth Grammar School on Wednesday night.
The Eagles competed in the top-flight last season, showing their class and experience.
They had too much quality for the injury-stricken Fury side who suffered their first taste of defence since March 2016.
Team captain Andy Goodale expressed his pride with the team for the way they have played during their unbeaten run of form.
Now they will have to regroup and target another long unbeaten streak.
He said: ‘It was the longest streak in Fury history and I’m really proud of everyone in the team for making it happen.’
The scoreline does not reflect the nature of the game, which was even for the first three quarters.
Fury led until midway through the fourth quarter.
The Southampton Eagles utilised their deep pool of players to wear out the Portsmouth side, who only had nine players available due to injuries.
The game plan to be physical and play with high energy proved to be effective for Southampton as they forced the Fury into foul trouble, and pulled away in the final period, storming to a 17-point victory.
Despite 26 points from star Antonio Santoro, and 19 points from veteran Paul Goodale, the Fury were not able to keep up with the scoring form of the Eagles.
Portsmouth’s injury problems have been stacking up in the recent weeks.
Rookie Ui Ayala and Harry Bates have been struggling with ankle injuries.
Also Tom Kovas, who was one of the key players in last year’s unbeaten season, has suffered a career ending knee injury which unfortunately happened in training last week.
Skipper Andy Goodale added: ‘We were missing many players through injuries and we feel the result would have been different if we were at full strength.
‘The team is beaten and bruised but our performance showed we will compete well in the league this year.
‘The scoreline doesn’t do us justice.
‘We were poor from the free throw line and there is no excuse to miss that many in a game.
‘If we made half of our free throws we would have won the game.
‘We are definitely going to work on that this week.’
The Portsmouth team was originally founded by Andy Goodale, Steve Ware and James Harris as teenagers.
Three years later they adopted the name The Portsmouth Fury.
Twenty-five years later, Andrew and Steve can still be seen at training every week, and continue to run the team.
Goodale’s younger brother, Paul, joined the team in 1994 and played an integral part in the success last season.
After winning promotion to division one this will be their most difficult season but they will get stronger.
They take encouragement from the performance in their first match.
– Tom Bonnett