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BBL Final Play Off for Worcester Wolves

Last Updated: May 5, 2014 01:03pm
St. Clement, Worcester
By Colin Taylor
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Friday 02 May 2014

BBL Playoff Semi-Final First Leg:  Sheffield Sharks 59-79 Worcester Wolves

A superb shooting display has put Worcester Wolves on the brink of a trip to Wembley for the British Basketball League’s showpiece Playoff Final, in just over a week’s time.

A couple of months ago Wolves travelled to Sheffield Sharks in the BBL Trophy first leg semi-final and despite at one juncture holding a twenty-point lead, allowed their hosts to reduce the arrears to just a couple of points by the end of the evening. On Friday the eventual Trophy winners again built up a substantial buffer, but, on this occasion, firmly denied the Sharks any opportunity of a similar comeback.

The undoubted star of the show was club captain Alex Owumi who managed to connect on seven of his eleven long-distance shot attempts, on his way to contributing 28 points towards his side’s mightily-impressive 79-59 triumph.

An Owumi triple at the close of the opening quarter put Wolves in front at 26-16, a cushion that had been maintained by half-time when Owumi again floated in a shot from outside the arc just as the period expired, bringing matters to 43-34.

By the end of the third quarter the visitor’s advantage had bumped out to 60-44, and continued to rise during the match’s final ten minutes.

As the game clock ticked down, Owumi further demoralised his opponents when nailing his last three-pointer, before Zach Gachette did likewise for Sheffield and point guard [censored] Holmes slotted home two free throws.

Zaire Taylor was Wolves’ next-highest scorer with 21 points. Holmes was Sheffield’s only double-digit scorer, with 15 points.

The second and deciding leg of the tie will take place at the University of Worcester Arena this Sunday, (tip off 6.30pm). The victors will take their place at Wembley Arena on Sunday 11 May, where they will meet the winners of the other semi-final, Newcastle Eagles or Leicester Riders.

Sunday 04 May 2014 BBL Playoff Semi-Final Second Leg 

Worcester Wolves 67-60 Sheffield Sharks - Wolves win on aggregate 146-119

The University of Worcester Arena was the scene of joyous celebrations on Sunday as Worcester Wolves defeated Sheffield Sharks to secure a place at the British Basketball League Playoff Final.

Adding their 67-60 win on the night to their twenty-point margin of victory from Friday’s first leg resulted in a punishing 146-119 aggregate triumph.

Sheffield showed tremendous character to all but erase the first leg deficit as the half-time interval approached, but were unable to sustain their fight for the full forty minutes. Wolves steadily chipped away at their opponent’s advantage, before finally overtaking and breaking their spirit. The showpiece final will take place next Sunday afternoon at Wembley Arena versus the BBL Championship winners, Newcastle Eagles.

Sharks’ forward tandem of Mike Tuck and Olu Babalola notched all of their side’s initial nine points, with only a couple of Zaire Taylor free throws coming in reply. Point guard [censored] Holmes floated in a three-pointer to bring the score to 2-12 by midway through the initial quarter, before Jamal Williams did likewise and thus registered Worcester’s first points from the field. Williams was able to repeat the feat to close the gap further to 15-20 entering the second period.

As the half progressed, Wolves struggled to break through Shark’s defensive wall. Though finding space to shoot from the perimeter, the misses far outweighed the successes. By contrast, Sheffield had no such offensive woes. Colin Sing was left unmarked to nail an outside score and Babalola was easily able to bustle his way to the basket for consecutive scores, boosting their team’s lead to 22-37 at two minutes before the half-time break. Only a fortunate late burst of scoring from Taylor and centre Will Creekmore was able to bring the arrears down to single figures at 31-39 as players returned to the locker rooms.

The visitor’s eight-point advantage held steady throughout the third quarter, but began to dissipate in the final period. At seven minutes remaining in the match, captain Alex Owumi sank his fifth triple of the evening to draw the combatants together at 53-53. The next play saw Taylor steal the ball from Babalola at half-court and race forward for a dunk, bringing a capacity crowd to their feet.

More good news followed swiftly for home supporters when Shark’s dangerous forward Tuck was forced to leave the court, having picked up his fifth foul. From here the Sheffield spirit wilted while the Worcester confidence soared. Creekmore triumphantly pumped his fist in the air after slamming the ball through the hoop and reserve Disraeli Lufadeju caused similar celebrations amongst his team-mates when producing a dazzling spin move to finalise the 67-60 win.

Coach Paul James joined his players in high-fiving fans in a post-match lap around the court, going on declare his delight at seeing Worcester progress to their second final of the year, saying: “We came to the game trying to forget about our twenty point first leg lead, but played horribly early on. But we settled down and came back as we know we can. It’s unbelievable to be going to Wembley and I’m thrilled for everyone involved with the club that we have made it through to another final.”

Following on from his 28-point outing on Friday, Alex Owumi made another significant contribution with 15 points. James joked about the significance of Sunday also being Owumi’s birthday, adding: “It was Kai William’s birthday on Friday, and we won big. Today it was Alex’s, and again we won. I’m just hoping that someone else on the team has a birthday next Sunday.”

Creekmore led the Wolves’ scorers with 17 points, as well as grabbing 13 rebounds for another double-double performance. Taylor was just one assist away from his own double-double, with 14 points and nine assists. Nick Lewis top-scored for Sheffield with 17 points, supported by Babalola with 14 points. 

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