To close an impressive first season, the Tampa Bay Strong Dogs brought the fighting spirit to the NWBA’s National Championship, taking place in Denver, CO, March 18-21. Seeded 15th in the nation, the Strong Dogs first faced the Wilmington, NC’s Port City Spokesmen. After a slow start that had them nine points behind Port City, the Strong Dogs got in gear, pulling ahead to finish the first half leading 28 -23. Not wanting to be left behind, the Spokesmen started the second half with a vengeance, quickly catching up the score. The game remained tight for a while. Tampa hustled for every possession, engaging the crowd with their fighting spirit. A win was not in the cards however. Despite a stellar performance by Tampa, the Spokesmen took the win.
For their second game, the Strong Dogs faced a conference rival, the Miami Heat Wheels. Taking advantage of their years of experience and their knowledge of Tampa’s strategy, the Miami Heat Wheels were ready to keep the Strong Dogs fighting for every point; and fight they did! Never out hustled, the Strong Dogs played their game with urgency, stealing the ball to create scoring opportunities and never giving up a rebound. Even when the game was unwinnable, the Strong Dogs continued playing hard. They never surrendered.
The most memorable of all games, was the third one. A battle of wills against the Sportable Richmond Rimridders. The first half ended in a tie. After loosing their respective games the night before, neither team was willing to give up points. Richmond's speed and pressing gave them a small lead, but the Strong Dogs defense did not let them stray far. The game came down to one last shot... a three pointer at the buzzer that did not go in. The Strong Dogs might not be going home with Ws, but they are going home with winning hearts.
For being a first year team, the Strong Dogs showed incredible heart and poise under pressure. It was a long road to this National Championship, one the Strong Dogs rolled with pride and commitment to doing their best. This tournament was the perfect closing to the Tampa Bay Strong Dog’s first season, and a promising first step to a winning second season. The best is yet to come! Go Strong Dogs!!!