Worcester Wolves 79-75 London Lions

Last Updated: Jan 1, 2016 10:12pm
St. Clement, Worcester
By Colin Taylor
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Worcester Wolves saw out 2015 in fine style by entertaining a large Sunday afternoon audience at the University of Worcester Arena with a thrilling 79-75 victory over London Lions.

Wolves held the lead through large parts of the contest, but never by a comfortable margin. With seven minutes to play, Lions edged 60-62 ahead. Within the final couple of minutes the visitor’s advantage had extended to 69-75. Suddenly guard Ashton Khan let fly with a long-distance effort which dropped through the net, prompting a London time out.

From the re-start a wayward pass from former Wolves’ forward Jamal Williams was pounced upon by Orlan Jackman, setting up another basket for Khan. Within seconds Jackman had harried Williams into a further error, this time precipitating a score for Jay Couisnard, bringing the crowd to their feet and regaining the lead at 77-75. A double of made free throws from Javier Mugica sealed the win. 

In a match where four Wolves’ players scored in double figures, it was Mugica who led the way with a performance his coach Paul James described as ‘outrageous’. Playing the entire 40 minutes, the Spanish forward tallied 20 points and pulled down a huge 17 rebounds. Pavol Losonsky put forward 16 points, while Khan and Jackman contributed 14 and 12 points respectively.

There was a sterile opening to proceedings as both teams struggled to settle. Three-year Worcester stalwart Alex Owumi was warmly applauded on his return to the city with his new employers, but would miss his first three shot attempts before finally connecting in a first quarter that ended with Wolves a point ahead at 14-13.

The second period continued in a similar vein, with neither side able to pull clear. Owumi made the second and third of what would turn out to be his five three-pointers in the game, while Losonsky and Mugica provided the bulk of Worcester’s output.

Entering the third quarter with a slender 34-33 lead, a 7-0 run for the hosts was finalised when Losonsky converted from a delightful no-look pass by Khan. However, nine points from their ever-dangerous centre Demond Watt allowed Lions to roar back into contention, trailing at just 57-56 as the last quarter began and setting the scene for the final minutes of the afternoon’s drama.

Paul James declared his delight at what had taken place, saying: “We couldn’t have had a better way to end the year. Those last few minutes provided a spectacle that kept people on the edge of their seats. We stayed with our game and kept believing we could win.”

In relation to Mugica’s display, James added: “Javi was superb, outrageous even. He is just getting better and better with every game he plays.” 

Wolves now face a spell of four away games in a row, before returning to the University of Worcester Arena on Friday 22 January for a mouth-watering clash with the unbeaten leaders of the British Basketball League, the Newcastle Eagles.  

The stretch of road matches begins at Surrey Scorchers on Saturday 02 January, moves to Bristol Flyers and Cheshire Phoenix the following weekend and ends at Sheffield Sharks on Friday 15 January.  

James gave his thoughts on Wolves’ upcoming schedule: “It will be a massive game against Newcastle. We always have good contests against them. But before that we have quite a spell away from Worcester. We had great support today to help us over the line; this series will show what we are about in performing away from our own crowd and creating our own atmosphere and spirit.”


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