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Wolves Back on Top

Leicester Riders 62-69 Worcester Wolves

Last Updated: Nov 18, 2013 09:46am
St. Clement, Worcester
By Colin Taylor
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Worcester Wolves vs Surrey United – Game Postponed

Worcester Wolves were denied the chance to move back to the top of the British Basketball League when Friday’s game against Surrey United had to be postponed.

A big crowd was on hand at the University of Worcester Arena, eagerly anticipating a follow-up to last weekend’s fine victory at Glasgow Rocks. Unfortunately, at around 15 minutes before the scheduled 7.30 tip-off time, it was announced that, due to traffic problems, Surrey’s estimated time of arrival would not be soon enough for the game to be played and completed by a reasonable hour.

Wolves’ President Mick Donovan explained the circumstances around the postponement: “We received a telephone call at around half-past six, saying that Surrey were having problems with traffic and were caught up in London.

“We monitored the situation, speaking with the BBL, and the estimated start time for the game was thought to be, at the earliest, around nine o’clock. We had a crowd of over a thousand already here and felt it was unfair for them to wait that long. There were a lot of youngsters here, so a finish time of around eleven o’clock would not be ideal, meaning we had to make a decision to postpone the game.

“It’s obviously very disappointing as a lot of people had made a lot of effort tonight. We had children who came dressed in superhero outfits and we were hosting several birthday parties and corporate groups, so, from a club perspective, it’s really disappointing.

“Everyone who came along was given the option of a ticket for another game, or a full refund, with the majority choosing to take a ticket for another game. The players stayed on court for over thirty minutes, we gave gifts to the children who came along for birthday parties, they’ve had their pictures taken with Wolves players, and we’ve invited them all to come back again.

“We’re all really disappointed. The spectators were up for it, the team were up for it. It’s one of those things that was outside of our control, but we’ve done our best to manage the situation.”

There will however be a quick chance for the Wolves to get back into action. On Saturday evening they travel to Midlands rivals, the Leicester Riders, in a top-of-the-table clash. The next match at the University of Worcester Arena will take place on Friday 29 November when Manchester Giants are the opposition.

 

Leicester Riders 62-69 Worcester Wolves

Saturday 16 November 2013

Worcester Wolves have risen back to the top of the British Basketball League after a pulsating victory at fellow title-challengers the Leicester Riders on Saturday. Wolves’ 69-62 success finally ends Riders’ record-setting 34-game home unbeaten run in the BBL, stretching all the way back to February 2012.

In a closely-fought game, Wolves were eventually able to emerge victorious after preventing their opponents from scoring a basket from anywhere other than the free-throw line for the first six minutes of the last quarter.

A nervous opening by both sides saw the scores level at 4-4 after five minutes had been played. Ex-Worcester centre Barry Lamble then nudged his side in front with his first touch of the ball, but former Leicester guard Zaire Taylor was on hand to reply with a quick double of scores.

The initial quarter ended at 16-14 in Wolves’ favour after back-up point guard Caylin Raftopoulos presented a clever pass for Andreas Schreiber to lay home.

Early in the second period Great Britain’s Olympic captain, Andrew Sullivan floated home a three-pointer, before watching Taylor do likewise. Worcester big man Will Creekmore opened his scoring account with four minutes remaining in the half, and the teams were again tied at 23-23.

As the half-time buzzer sounded there was concern for the visitors when Schreiber was adjudged to have impeded Leicester’s Anthony Downing as he made for the basket. Two free throws for Downing put his side ahead at 34-29, and left Schreiber having already used up three of his allotted five fouls.

Sullivan was in the thick of the action after the break, nailing a score for himself and assisting Lamble to increase his tally. However, he was left standing frustrated at mid-court when having the ball snatched from his hands and swiftly put through the hoop by Taylor.

Schreiber hit a double of baskets to close out the third quarter, but by now had picked up his fourth foul and still saw his side trailing at 43-47.

The last period of play was where Worcester were finally able to assert their authority. Five points from Alex Owumi gave his side their first lead since the opening quarter, and had Leicester coach Rob Paternostro urgently requesting a time out.

Matters did not improve for the hosts after the break as another score from Owumi, and one from Creekmore, made it 53-47 with six minutes to play.

Despite Owumi and Creekmore both joining Schreiber on the four-foul mark and now teetering on the edge of expulsion, they stood firm with their team-mates in repelling a succession of Rider attacks. Recent returnee from injury, Kalil Irving held his ground to take an offensive charge from Leicester’s Jay Couisnard and Schreiber repeated the act in the face of a wild onward rush from Downing.

It took until just four minutes remaining in the match before Riders were able to once more score from the field, a basket from Rashad Hassan, to peg the Wolves advantage back to 59-52.

With under a minute to go young English guard Connor Washington briefly ignited the hopes of a capacity home crowd with a triple, drawing his side back to 64-60, but Worcester were able to close out the evening from the free-throw line.

Emerging from underneath a jubilant dancing circle of his players, Wolves’ coach Paul James was breathless when describing what the triumph meant for his side, saying: “You can’t express the magnitude of this win. Not only have we beaten a very good defensive team in Leicester, but we’ve also beaten them in their own gym, where they haven’t been beaten in I don’t know how long. I’m so proud of these players.”

Owumi and Taylor led the Wolves scoring, with 20 and 19 points respectively. Downing top-scored for Leicester with 14 points.

Next up for the Wolves will be another trip to a title-challenger, when they travel up to Newcastle Eagles this Friday. The week after that (Friday 29 November) the Wolves will welcome the chance to return to the University of Worcester Arena, when Manchester Giants will be the visitors.  

 

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