BRADFORD Dragons had only six players available for their National Trophy clash with Derby Trailblazers but dug deep to win 88-83.

Rafi Saipe was missing through injury, while fellow newcomers Maciec 'Magic' Kosciuk and Tamas Szlavik were unable to play as their Basketball England registrations had failed to come through in time.

A strong Derby team looked set to pull clear when they opened up an early five-point lead but the Dragons stuck to their game plan and by the end of the first quarter the game was tied at 21-21.

The second period saw Bradford begin to seize control and some tremendous three-point shooting from veteran Jason Swaine and new boy John Bantock, combined with great play inside the box by Rihards Sulcs, saw the hosts reach the half-time break with a 44-37 advantage.

The Dragons also started the third quarter strongly and had soon extended their lead to 14 points. But the Bradford players were now clearly starting to tire and the Trailblazers started to reduce the deficit.

That was cut to just a single point at one stage but Chris Mellor's men refused to give in and, following a series of fouls by the visitors, they managed to regain some control and ended the section 65-57 ahead.

Bradford managed to stretch their lead back to 11 points but the strain was really starting to show and they gave away a succession of turnovers, allowing Derby back into the reckoning.

When Derby called a time-out with only one minute and 47 seconds left on the clock, the home advantage was again down to a point.

The visitors immediately gained an advantage through a Lee Goldsborough two-pointer when they returned to the court but the Dragons' never-say-die attitude kicked back in and they were rewarded for a magnificent team performance with a five-point win.

Top scorer for Bradford with 27 points was Bantock, who played the full 40 minutes, followed closely by Sulcs on 25.

Vance Silcott, the club's longest-serving player, finished the game with a double-double, notching 16 points and 13 rebounds. Alex Dorr headed the Trailblazers scoring with a very respectable 22 points.

Bradford head coach Mellor said: "I thought we played really well. Our intensity was very good right from the tip.

"We moved the ball well and competed on the boards, even though we were a little undersized at times.

"We kept our composure at the end when it looked like Derby) were getting the upper hand and everyone stuck to their job."

Tees Valley Mohawks are next up at the Dragons Den in another National Trophy round-robin game on Saturday (6.15pm).

This will be followed the next day by a National Cup second-round tie against Killamarsh Derbyshire Arrows, starting at at 4.15pm.