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A Win Win for the Wolves

A weekend of wins for Worcester Wolves

Last Updated: Oct 20, 2013 08:43pm
St. Clement, Worcester
By Colin Taylor
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Worcester Wolves completed a routine 88-66 BBL Cup victory over Manchester Giants on Friday at the University of Worcester Arena. 

Having already accumulated an unassailable 24-point advantage by half-time against outclassed opponents, there was plenty of opportunity for coach Paul James to give court time to all the members of his squad.

A laboured start from the Wolves allowed the Giants to nudge into a 4-9 lead after four minutes of the match had elapsed. However, this would be the only time that the visitors posed a serious threat, with a three-pointer from Wolves’ Alex Owumi then sparking his side into action.

Point guard Zaire Taylor weaved his way through slower opponents to provide an assist for team-mate Stefan Djukic to lay in, and the scores were level. Wolves centre Will Creekmore sank a triple, before Owumi did likewise.

New signing Andreas Schreiber was fouled in the act of shooting and subsequently opened his Worcester scoring account with a couple of free throws to put the hosts in front at 17-9. Giants’ scoreless period was finally ended by a long-range score from former Wolves favourite David Watts, with three minutes of the quarter remaining.

The second quarter began with little-used Wolves forward Daniel Belgrave converting a neat pass from Schreiber to take the score to 26-16. It was a full five minutes later, after Belgrave had once more made a basket, before Giants guard James Jones would end a tortuous barren spell for his team, putting matters at 36-18.

A score from Manchester-born veteran Yorick Williams prompted a Worcester time out with two minutes left in the half with the evening standing at 44-30, but from there until the half-time interval the Giants were again held scoreless.

A double of long-range baskets from Owumi rounded off a highly-impressive tally of six from six scores from outside the arc for the Worcester guard. His only miss of the half came as time expired, but even then Creekmore was on hand to tip in the miss and finalise a comfortable 54-30 home advantage.

There was a brief third-quarter revival for the visitors on the back of accurate outside shooting, but closer to the net they had little answer to the bustling inside play of Creekmore and Schreiber. Creekmore made a perfect seven from seven free throws to keep the Giants at arm’s length, at 69-49.

In the last ten minutes the Wolves sauntered to the inevitable victory, giving more of their bench players a chance to impress. Harry Turner joined the three-point scoring fest with his first touch of the game, and repeated the act in the final minute of the evening.

Paul James was satisfied with a workmanlike performance from his team, commenting: “The main thing today was to come through the game injury-free, and as smoothly as possible, and I’m glad to say that we did that.”

The 88-66 win means that Wolves travel to Leicester Riders in the next round of the competition, a prospect that James is relishing, adding: “Leicester will be much harder, a tough test, but we will be ready for them.”

The night’s scoring was topped by Creekmore with 24 points, as well as grabbing 12 rebounds, closely followed by Owumi with 23 points. David Aliu was Manchester’s highest scorer with 15 points.

The Wolves will now return to league action with a trip over to Birmingham Knights on Sunday afternoon (3pm).

 

Sunday 20 October 2013

Birmingham Knights 59-100 Worcester Wolves

Worcester Wolves maintained their unbeaten record and still sit proudly at the top of the British Basketball League after easily seeing off the challenge of Birmingham Knights on Sunday.

Just as in Friday’s comfortable victory over Manchester Giants, there was another opportunity for Paul James to give a run out to all the members of his squad as his side cruised to the 59-100 win.

There was a blow to Birmingham’s chances before the game began with their free-scoring American guard Brent Benson ruled out of the action. From the tip off it was obvious that his absence was seriously disrupting his side’s structure as they struggled to find the basket and were unable hold back an explosion of Wolves’ scoring.

Nearly four minutes of the afternoon had elapsed before the Knights troubled the scoreboard, a solitary free-throw from forward Emile Hopkins. In the meantime, Worcester had already rattled in ten points.

Another blistering passage of Wolves offence took place over the next the thirty seconds. Firstly Will Creekmore sank a triple, then Zaire Taylor stole the ball at half-court and raced forward for an easy lay-up and lastly as Knights tried to inbound the next possession he cruelly snatched the ball for a further score. The 1-17 scoreline was the signal for James to make early substitutions, bringing in Andreas Schreiber, Kalil Irving and Caylin Raftopoulos in place of starters Taylor, Creekmore and Stefan Djukic.

Knights managed to bring a measure of respectability to their output by the close of the initial quarter, though they still stared skywards at an 11-29 deficit.

By midway through the second period the Wolves’ lead had accelerated to 15-40, and all of their starting five had taken a rest on the bench. Birmingham coach Paul Douglas showed his frustration when disputing referees’ calls, earning himself a technical foul, although some of his fire appeared to transfer to his troops as they battled manfully to hold the deficit down to 24-47 by half-time.

University of Worcester student Calvin Morant-Hudson was allowed to take the point guard reins for the start of the second half and quickly marked his arrival with a confident long-range score. By the end of the third quarter he had tallied three further baskets.

The onslaught on the beleaguered Birmingham defenders continued. Jamal Williams floated home a double of three-pointers and then brought the large band of travelling Wolves supporters to their feet with a mazy dribble and assist for Schreiber to alley-oop through the net.

Entering the final ten minutes of the afternoon, a huge 43-78 lead had already been established, but no mercy was shown to his opponents by Wolves’ star guard Taylor, who swaggered to twelve final quarter points. After a couple of mesmerising spin moves to the basket, he fired a bullet pass for Schreiber to slam home. At 59-98, and with just a handful of seconds remaining in the match, he broke clear of tiring Knights, sprinted to their net    and at the last moment bounced the ball up over the rim, before gleefully jamming the ball down with both hands to bring up a Worcester century.

Paul James was satisfied at seeing his team assert their authority, saying: “Job done. We played tough. It was also a chance for our bench players to get extended court time and they came through. Mission accomplished.”

On a night when all eleven Wolves players got on the score-sheet, it was ex-Plymouth stalwart Schreiber who top-scored with 18 points, followed by Taylor and Williams with 14 and 13 points respectively. In only his second appearance for the Wolves, Schreiber also impressed by pulling down 12 rebounds. Martyn Gayle with 16 points and Emile Hopkins with 10 points were the Knights’ only double-digit scorers.

Wolves’ next outing will undoubtedly be a much harder task as they travel to the BBL’s second-place team, the Newcastle Eagles, this Friday evening. The team will return to the University of Worcester Arena the following Friday (November 1), to face Plymouth Raiders.

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