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Wolves Bow Out of BBL Play Offs

Last Updated: Apr 24, 2016 10:37pm
St. Clement, Worcester
By Colin Taylor
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Worcester Wolves face a monumental task if they are to progress to the British Basketball League Playoff semi-finals, after suffering a disheartening 53-90 defeat at Glasgow Rocks on Friday.

Wolves fell behind from the opening tip, trailed 17-27 after the first quarter, were 32-49 in arrears by half-time, before seeing that already-considerable deficit more than doubled before the night’s end.

Glasgow put forward a quartet of double-digit scorers, with Great Britain International Kieron Achara on 22 points and point guard Warren Gillis on 20, leading the way. By contrast, Worcester’s only impactful scorer was Perris Blackwell with 18 points.

By midway through the initial quarter Achara had already notched nine points, helping his side into a 19-11 lead. Jay Couisnard and Ben Eaves both hit three-pointers to give the visitors hope.

However, the gap widened through the second period as numerous shots missed the target. By the interval only 11 of 34 attempts had been successful while Rocks continued to make the majority of their own.

It was a more even third period as both teams tightened their defenses, slowing the scoreboard to 66-45. It was the last quarter that was to be Wolves’ final undoing as they completely stalled on offense.

It would take a full five minutes for their next score from the field, via Blackwell. A few seconds later the Worcester big man again connected, before Rocks once more put a lid over the basket. In the meantime the hosts took their chances with ease, a whopping 24-8 blitz sinking Wolves into a mighty hole.

Coach Paul James described his team’s struggles, saying: “Early on we didn’t deal well with Achara. From there it only got worse.

“We were continually chasing the game, which didn’t allow us to settle. Too many of our players had poor shooting nights, while Glasgow stayed steady.”

Wolves uphill battle to overturn Rocks’ huge first-leg lead will take place this Sunday, (tip off 4pm), at the University of Worcester Arena. 

“Today was a horror-story, but on the positive side it is only half-time in a two-leg tie. Obviously we will need a big turnaround on Sunday, but we have got to believe that we can do a lot better,” added James.


 

Worcester Wolves 88-83 Glasgow Rocks

 

Worcester Wolves have bowed out of this year’s British Basketball League playoffs despite an entertaining 88-83 win over Glasgow Rocks at the University of Worcester Arena on Sunday. 

A highly-disappointing 37-point defeat in Friday’s first-leg in Scotland meant it was always going to be a mountainous task for Wolves to make it to the semi-finals of the competition. 

However, Worcester began the afternoon with a fighting spirit that, by the beginning of the second quarter, had retrieved more than half of Friday’s deficit with a 39-17 lead. As if now fatigued by the effort already expended, the Wolves’ players were unable to maintain their early pace, allowing the away side to recover enough to cling onto a sufficient advantage to progress onwards. 

There were across-the-board contributions in scoring. Jordan Aaron led the way with 20 points, backed up by 14 points apiece for Perris Blackwell and Orlan Jackman. Jay Couisnard chipped in 12 while Ben Eaves and Pavol Losonsky both tallied 10 points. 

Just as in the first-leg, it was Warren Gillis and Kieron Achara who again top-scored for Rocks, with 14 and 13 points respectively. 

Jackman was in the thick of the action from the opening tip. He set up a score for Aaron, made one of his own, and then stole the ball from Achara, prompting Glasgow coach Sterling Davis to request a time out in only the second minute of the contest. 

The stoppage did little to settle his team’s nerves. Four minutes later an exasperated Davis was yelling to the officials for a further break in play following a mighty dunk from Blackwell and a double of baskets for Couisnard that extended matters to 22-9. 

Still the Wolves’ onslaught continued, closing the first quarter at 32-15 after a pinpoint Aaron pass from half-court that found Eaves under the hoop for a thrilling alley oop. 

Two three-pointers for Aaron and one for Ashton Khan on his return to action from injury had fans up on their feet in celebration as the Worcester advantage peaked.  

But it was Glasgow who now took the upper hand. Lively guard Jordan Clarke forced a trio of steals, helping to trim the lead to 42-28. Employing a more methodical and slowed-down offense, Rocks had dragged the arrears all the way back to 49-40 by half-time. 

Wolves’ last hurrah came in the third period. While rat-a-tat buckets from Jackman and Couisnard rebuilt the lead to 77-59, time was now running out. 

The Worcester attacks petered out completely in the final quarter. Couisnard and Blackwell were forced to the bench after their fifth fouls. Just three scores came from the hosts over the entire ten minutes. Brimming with confidence, Glasgow were left to saunter to their final 173-141 aggregate victory. 

Coach Paul James praised his players’ latest efforts, saying: “Unfortunately the damage was all done on Friday.  

“The players gave it their all today – we got the deficit all the way back to 15 points, but it’s extremely hard to sustain that level of intensity for long periods of time. Glasgow finally started to relax and play their game. 

“Today we showed a little bit of what can be achieved by playing hard.” 

Asked about what may be taking place over the summer, James replied: “It’s going to be time to reflect, to look at players as individuals and at the season as a whole. 

“Over the years we have progressed from a side that has not made the playoffs, to one that regularly makes them by finishing top-four in the table. But recently we have failed in the playoffs. We need to move forward. 

“We will certainly be looking to put a strong team on the floor next season, one that will be challenging for honours.” 

The three teams joining Glasgow in the battle for places in the Playoff Final at London’s O2 Arena on Sunday 1 May are Championship winners Leicester Riders, Sheffield Sharks, and seventh-placed Cheshire Phoenix who shocked the league runners-up Newcastle Eagles in their quarter-final tie.

PHOTO: FILE PIC

 

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