Oaklands Wolves' senior men went agonisingly close to opening their first NBL Division One season with a victory as they went down 76-72 against Nottingham Hoods, on Saturday.
The home side were up by a point with three minutes remaining only to see Hoods close out strongly to start the league season with a victory.
Jordan Santiago - the only Wolves player with no previous connection to Oaklands or their predecessors Leopards - led the way for Thomas Baker's team with 23 points, six rebounds and four assists, with Jerrell Layne adding 13 and Toby Gastaldi-Davies nine. Victor Olerarin's 19 points led Hoods while captain Delaney Powell added 17 as Hoods gained revenge for a hammering at Oaklands in what proved to be Leopards' final game last season.
Former Oaklands junior Jerell Layne took the honours as the first player to score for Wolves in Division One before Kane Daley hit the club's first three points as the hosts rushed into a 5-0 lead, but after James Cummings had levelled the score at 15, Hoods scored the final five points of the first quarter to lead 20-15.
Captain Santiago hit a trey to open the second period, and the Wolves kept in touch throughout the quarter without ever taking the lead as they reached half-time trailing 40-31.
Cummings hit a trey to open the second half for Wolves before Daley took over with six straight points to take the home side within two at 49-48 and Oaklands outscored Hoods 23-16 as eight straight Santiago saw the visitors' lead cut to 56-54 at the final break.
A great start to the fourth period saw a pair of Ray Akporure baskets give the Wolves a 60-58 lead three minutes into the quarter. Gastadi-Davies hit a triple to keep the home side ahead and Santiago gave Baker's team a six point lead with six minutes remaining.
Gastadi-Davies kept the five point lead intact with three minutes on the clock, but that was as good as it got for the home side as Hoods finished strongly to take the win.