Shamorie Ponds, youth-laden Al Rayyan embracing growing pains
KUWAIT CITY (Kuwait) - Shamorie Ponds lamented the defensive lapses he and Al Rayyan committed that ultimately led to their fall at the hands of Kuwait Club on Monday night.
The combo guard said that they couldn't afford to make mistakes, especially for a team that had to brave through manpower woes against the defending Gulf League champions.
"We had a lot of defensive mistakes, myself, and I mean pretty much the whole team," he stated during the postgame presser of their 85-62 road loss at the Shaikh Saad Alabdullah Sport Hall Complex.
"We just have to cut down on that. We're shorthanded, so we really can't make that much mistakes because we're already down two key players," Ponds furthered.
Al Rayyan played with only nine players in the loss and having a short rotation took its toll on the squad early, as they saw themselves trailing 21-10 at the end of the first.
They did try to string together some mini runs, especially in the second half, but the home team was just too much. Five players eventually finished in double figures: Mohammad Hasan (20), Cady Lalanne (18), Turki Alshemmari (16), Marcus Georges-Hunt (15), and Hamad Hasan (11).
"I felt like we got off to a slow start, and we kind of dug ourselves into a hole," said Ponds, who carried much of the load for the Qatari ball club with 22 points in 34 minutes.
"Like, early. And then we made a run late, but there were just crucial moments in the game that we didn't capitalize on and they made shots," he furthered. "It's hard to cut the lead down when we're making mistakes and they're pretty much hitting shots."
It sure is a deflating loss for an Al Rayyan side that's coming off a rousing win in Week 1, where they aced the test that were Devin Ebanks and Al-Ahli Jeddah on the road in Saudi Arabia.
But as head coach Stergios Koufos had said after their 98-88 victory, the team is still undergoing a rebuilding process, given the amount of young talent he has at his disposal.
So, as tough as Monday night's loss was, the champion mentor believes that it would only serve as a 'big lesson' for the rest of the crew as they all try to grow together.
"They need these tough games because they'll be better and this is the reality," said Koufus, who has a couple of players under the age of 18. "The lesson is big for these guys."
Ponds, who's just 25, couldn't agree more.
"It's tough. But right now, we just gotta deal with what we got. I mean, we can't rush players back. We just gotta be resilient and bounce back each game. One game at a time," he said.
"I feel each loss is a lesson," added the St. John's product. "We'd learn something from each loss. And we just can't repeat the same mistakes that we had in this game."