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Wolves Extend Their Winning Streak

Worcester Wolves 78-75 Sheffield Sharks

Last Updated: Jan 27, 2015 08:46am
St. Clement, Worcester
By Colin Taylor
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Worcester Wolves have made it six of the best in extending their winning streak in the British Basketball League. The latest victory, 78-75 over Sheffield Sharks, keeps Wolves in second place in the table, level on points with Newcastle Eagles, but having played two more matches.

The hosts did just enough to keep their noses in front for most of the contest, leading to another thrilling finish in front of another big Friday night crowd at the University of Worcester Arena.

Sheffield looked ill at ease in the early going. In the first five minutes they fumbled the ball out of bounds, put up a shot that hit nothing but air and even failed to make a shot attempt within the permitted 24 seconds. In the meantime Wolves calmly went about their business. Robert Thurman marked his return to action with a sky hook over the outstretched arms of his opponents and Paul Guede was on-form with a double of three-pointers.

Leading 19-12 entering the second quarter, it was now Worcester’s turn to falter. Five minutes would elapse before their next success from the field, a triple from Jamal Williams. Sheffield’s post-Christmas signing Mike Cook showed the qualities that won him the 2010 BBL Player of the Year award, notching scores to push his side ahead at 23-26.

Still trailing at 30-31 with less than two minutes remaining until half-time, home debutant Dejan Radojevic nailed his first points. In the dying seconds, Guede managed to dislodge the ball from the hands of Cook, racing down-court for a spectacular sideways dunk and a 39-33 advantage.

Wolves held the Sharks at bay during the third period. Guede and Thurman continued to shine, the former from the outside and the latter close to the basket. Thurman even raised chuckles from the crowd when spewing out his mouth-guard after one burst of frenetic activity.

At six minutes to go in the evening, Worcester led 65-56. By two minutes to play, a streak of scoring from Sharks’ British guard Nick Lewis had narrowed the gap to 69-66. Thurman had to leave the fray after picking up his fifth foul and also drew a technical penalty for voicing his displeasure to match officials. Sheffield’s resultant free throws were converted and Lewis again connected, reversing the lead to 69-70.

In reply, Wolves’ captain Alex Owumi was on target from distance to bring spectators to their feet. Guards Chavis Holmes and Guede made shots from the charity stripe to ease their side clear at 77-70. However, the drama was still not fully played out as more points from Lewis dragged Sheffield back to 77-75 with just seven seconds to go. Radojevic kept his cool to make the second of two free throws to seal the success.

Thurman led four double-digit scorers for the Wolves, with 17 points, alongside eight rebounds. Guede was similarly productive with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Holmes and Owumi tallied 15 and 13 points respectively. Cook top-scored for Sheffield with 15 points.

While acknowledging that this was another close victory, Coach Paul James was satisfied with the evening, saying: “It was another tight game for us, but as long as we get another notch in the win column then we’re doing our job. We’ve been in many close matches this season, but we’ve learnt to stick to our guns and not panic in those situations.”

Wolves return to the University of Worcester Arena next Friday to host Surrey United, followed the next day by a trip to Leicester Riders, in defence of the BBL Trophy they won last March. James stated that he will ensure that everyone stays focused during an important double-header of action in two competitions: “We cannot take Surrey lightly on Friday – Donatas (Visockis) will be coming back to Worcester, alongside several other threats. It has to be one game at a time for us. We’ll look to take care of business on Friday, before focusing on Leicester the next day.”

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