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Friday, 13 January 2017 15:17

Thunderbirds Lose Game 6 at Home and NatCon Finals

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The Thunderbirds were defeated four games to two by the London Knights in the National Conference Finals.  The Thunderbirds weren't able to send the series to London for a Game 7, losing Game 6 102-108 in US Airways Center.  Losing an elimination game on their homecourt was a disappointing pill to swallow for the team.  “I had no doubt we were going to win,” Harry White told reporters in a dejected Arizona locker room after the game.  “We didn’t play with the energy we needed to in an elimination game, especially on the defensive side of the ball.”

The Knights shot a series-high 49% in Game 6, including 11-19 from beyond the arc.  “We didn’t bring our A game on defense and they got hot.  End of story.  End of our season,” said a dejected Mark Marble.  Starting forward Jordyn Hardin agreed: “The fans brought the energy.  It was definitely a playoff environment.  We just didn’t have it in us tonight.”

The disappointing loss capped a somewhat surprising season to people outside of Arizona.  After some huge roster changes last offseason, including trading away the biggest Thunderbirds star to ever wear the Thunderbirds uniform, Noah Gutierrez, many experts did not expect the Thunderbirds to win 50 games or de-throne the Seattle Seadogs in the National West division.  Despite the questions entering the season, the Thunderbirds got off to a hot start and continued to roll into the playoffs.  “I think playing our guys in preseason really helped the team gel sooner.  That and we did not sustain any major injuries to our key players, which obviously helped us with our success,” said Thunderbirds GM Nick Simpson.  “This team is full of a bunch of unselfish guys who just love playing the game and playing it the right way,” Simpson continued.

 

The Thunderbirds will now look forward to the offseason where questions loom, but optimism is in the air.  The team will return all five starters presumably, with all five under contract.  The team also has some cap space to make some additional key signings and fill out their bench.  The big question mark is the head coach position.  Will the Thunderbirds bring back coach Raymond Shay with his contract expiring this offseason?  Simpson wouldn’t commit to it, but did leave the door open to making a change.  “Mr. Gebhart and I will meet with Coach Shay like we do at the end of every season and discuss the future,” Simpson told reporters when asked about Shay’s future with the team.  “Regardless, I’m excited for this team next season and I want to continue to build on our success.”

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