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(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)

BRIT BALL: The Cafe's Robert Reed, left, battles Blitz Wooten of Cluck U Chicken for position last Monday in the Cafe's 58-56 win in the first game of the best-of-three championship series in the Princeton Recreation Department Men's Summer Basketball League. Reed, a native of London, England who recently completed a solid career with the Rider University men's basketball program, scored a team-high 13 points in the win.
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Cafe's Reed Has Come a Long Way In Quest to Win Rec League Crown

By Bill Alden

Robert Reed has made quite a journey in his bid to win a championship in the Princeton Recreation Department Men's Summer Basketball League.

Reed, a native of London, England, was a vital force last Monday as his Cafe squad held off Cluck U Chicken 58-56 to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three championship series.

Scoring a team-high 13 points and making a key assist in the game's waning moments, Reed, who came to the U.S. five years ago and went on to put together a solid career for Rider University men's basketball program, showed his game has benefitted from his move across the pond.

"It's been a real good experience," said the 6'10, 225-pound Reed, who hopes to play pro ball in France this winter. "You learn a lot over here. Hopefully I'll be able to take that back overseas."

Reed's experience Monday night wasn't exactly a smooth one. With rain moving the game inside from the Community Park court to a stifling Princeton High gym, The Cafe rolled out to an early 25-8 advantage.

Cluck U, using tight defense and some deadeye outside shooting from Mike Pemberton and some power play down low by Sam Page, fought back to within one with a minute remaining in the game. Pemberton ended with a game-high 15 points.

With Chris Hatchell coolly canning three free throws and Reed throwing a full-court strike to Marshawn Ferguson for a key bucket, the Cafe hung on for the win, its 11th straight since an opening day loss to Cluck U (9-3). Hatchell and Rich Wright each chipped 11 points for the Cafe.

It was a sweet win for Reed and his mates as the Cafe, which has been in the league three years and has never won the title, moved to within a win of knocking off Cluck U, which has won eight titles. Game two of the series is Wednesday night and game three, if necessary, will be played Friday night.

Reed knows that the Cafe will have to play better if it is to topple Cluck U. "It was a bit closer than we would've liked tonight, we eased up a bit," acknowledged Reed, who led Rider last season in rebounding with 6.8 caroms a game. "We were a bit sloppy in the second half, we took some bad shots and lost our composure a little bit."

But with the Cafe emerging as the most consistent team in the league this summer, Reed believes the squad will come through.

"We're a well-organized team now," said Reed in his London accent. "We've played 10 or so games together with the full team. I'm looking forward to Wednesday. We really want to win Wednesday, we don't want to have to go to Friday because against that team anything can happen."

In view of how far Reed has come, though, having to play a third game to win a title shouldn't unduly tax him.

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