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Mixed Results for Worcester Wolves

Last Updated: Feb 9, 2015 05:11pm
St. Clement, Worcester
By Colin Taylor
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Worcester Wolves 74-48 Bristol Flyers

 

Worcester Wolves kept up the pressure on Newcastle Eagles at the top of the British Basketball League after cruising to a convincing 74-48 victory over Bristol Flyers. With Eagles also winning on Friday, against third-placed Leicester Riders, Wolves now stand a couple of points behind the current title-holders, but six points clear of Riders.

A standout feature of Worcester’s streak of league victories has been the tightness of the score-lines. Coach Paul James was very happy to have finally seen his charges achieve a more-comfortable win, saying: “We came out and played a great game, with contributions across the board. We had a meeting during the week and thrashed out what we needed to do as a team to get to where we want to be. We were very active, with everyone helping each other out, rebounding as a group and hunting in a pack, and the result certainly followed tonight.”

Wolves pounced on a series of early miscues from their opponents. On consecutive possessions Flyers’ forward Mathias Seilund allowed Robert Thurman and then Paul Guede to lift the ball from his hands. Both players capitalised to score. Alex Owumi quickly found his range from distance with a couple of three-pointers as his side eased to a 27-20 first quarter lead.

By half-time the advantage had doubled, to 43-29, with James already rotating his starters. Recent-signing Dejan Radojevic strode in from the bench to confidently slam home an assist from point guard Chavis Holmes.

Former University of Worcester student Roy Owen notched a basket shortly after the interval, but it would take until the last two minutes of the third quarter before any other Bristol player was able to trouble the scoreboard. In the meantime Owumi was again on target with a double of three-pointers, and current University of Worcester undergraduates Kalil Irving and Disraeli Lufadeju opened their scoring accounts.

Despite entering the final period with a 58-40 cushion there was no ease in the intensity of Wolves’ play. Every Bristol attack to the hoop was met by a swarm of defenders, harassing the visitors into mistakes and setting up simple opportunities at the other end of the court.

James re-iterated his pleasure at what he saw and also looked ahead to his team’s trip to fellow title-challengers Cheshire Phoenix on Sunday, saying: “To limit any side to just 48 points shows outstanding determination. We will be taking on a very offensive-orientated team on Sunday. We will need to compete in every aspect. Cheshire are certainly tough, but they are also certainly beatable, especially if we play as hard defensively as we have just shown.”

This week the club linked up with Wolves’ supporter and businessman Steve Edwards, for an innovative fund-raising initiative. For the remainder of this season, every rebound grabbed by a Wolves’ player will result in Edwards’ company; Worcester-based search and recruitment firm Spirit Executive, donating £1 to the Riverbank Children’s Ward at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital.  The fund got off to a flying start against Bristol with Thurman, Radojevic and Irving sharing 25 of their side’s impressive 51 rebound total. 

On a night when every Wolves’ player inked the score-sheet, Owumi led the way with 20 points, followed by Holmes and Guede with 12 and 10 points respectively. 

After the match James confirmed the departure of French forward Remi Dibo, saying: “Remi has made the decision to go back to France and not play for the remainder of the season. It’s tough here – we have expectations of what we want at the club and what we want from our players. Sometimes players can struggle with that pressure. We wish him well for the future and hopefully he can return to playing with another side next year.”

 

Cheshire Phoenix 89-75 Worcester Wolves 

 

Worcester Wolves lost out on Sunday to one of their rivals in the race for the British Basketball League, suffering a 75-89 defeat at Cheshire Phoenix. While Wolves stay in second place in the table below Newcastle Eagles, by virtue of having played more games than any other contender, Leicester Riders and Cheshire are now snapping at their heels.

The match remained poised until a disastrous barren spell for the visitors bridging the third and fourth quarters. A triple from Jamal Williams edged Wolves 56-55 ahead at five minutes to go in the third period, but it would be a further nine minutes before another Wolves’ score from the field, by which time Cheshire had strolled into the distance, delighting a packed Northgate Arena.

Worcester sank to defeat at the same venue in December, leading their coach Paul James to acknowledge the dominance of the opposition, saying: “Every season you can come up against a team that seems to have your number. Today we again struggled to cope with Cheshire’s speed, size and athleticism. We were doing alright for a while, but then had a long spell where nothing went our way and where Chester capitalised.”

The lead see-sawed throughout the first half. Captain Alex Owumi and Paul Guede both connected with a double of three-pointers in the opening quarter, but Phoenix playmaker Dustin Salisbery was able to do likewise. Another basket for Owumi moved Wolves 24-23 in front as the second period began. A couple of minutes later he was on the spot to swat away a Cheshire shot attempt and set up a three-point success for reserve guard Caylin Raftopoulos.

Raftopoulos floated home a further triple to maximise his side’s advantage at 37-31, four minutes before the half-time break. Robert Thurman was forced to the bench on three fouls, leaving fellow big man Dejan Radojevic the task of battling Cheshire’s  7 foot 8 inch giant Paul Sturgess.

With Thurman back on court after the interval, taking turns with Owumi to move the away side of the scoreboard, it looked as if the evening’s victors would continue undetermined. However, after a long succession of Wolves’ shots went awry it became too late to retrieve matters.  

Three Phoenix players stacked up substantial point’s totals. Demond Watt hit 25 points, with Salisbery and Taylor King totaling 23 and 22 points respectively.  For Wolves, Thurman and Jamal Williams tallied 14 points apiece. 

Worcester will be in road action again next Sunday, at Durham Wildcats.

Photo: File pic

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