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Worcester Wolves 85-80 Manchester Giants

Last Updated: Dec 16, 2014 06:47pm
St. Clement, Worcester
By Colin Taylor
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Worcester Wolves were made to battle hard by Manchester Giants, before finally taking an 85-80 victory at the University of Worcester Arena on Friday. 

Wolves now hold an 11-2 win-loss record in the British Basketball League, with one of those two defeats coming at the hands of the Giants back in October. Once more Manchester showed that they have the players that can disrupt Worcester’s rhythm.

Wolves’ centre Robert Thurman emerged as the night’s leading scorer with 27 points, successfully fending off Manchester’s big men but, at the guard position, the visitor’s Stefan Gill and Ingus Bankevics were able to help themselves to 23 points apiece. 

It was scores from Gill and Bankevics which moved Manchester into an early lead, before Thurman set out his stall around both baskets. Reserve guard Sean Park popped up with four points, helping his side to a 25-15 cushion by the close of the initial quarter.

Wolves’ captain Alex Owumi had his pocket picked by former Worcester student Callum Jones as the second period commenced. Jones converted again on Giants’ next possession. As the quarter progressed, the host’s offense stalled. Just six points were added to the scoreboard in the last five minutes of the half, while their opponents tallied fifteen, slashing the deficit to 39-38.

Veteran Manchester centre Mike Bernard tipped his team ahead at the start of the second half. Thurman lofted the ball over his counterpart’s outstretched arms to nudge Wolves back in front. Gill sped by static defenders to lay the ball in, before seeing Owumi float home an imperious three-pointer. Back-and forth swung the advantage. 

By midway through the final quarter a heave from Bernard had levelled the night at 67-67. Just when it looked as if the home side’s resolve could crumble, Owumi bounced to the fore with successive triples.

Jamal Williams joined the long-range shooting party and suddenly calm had been restored at 76-68. Giants were kept at bay for the remainder of the match, leaving Worcester to ready themselves for the second instalment of a doubleheader of North-West opposition when they travel to Cheshire Phoenix on Sunday.

Coach Paul James was pleased to take the victory, saying: “Yes it was a scrappy game, but we just did enough to take the win. Robert did a good job and Alex came up with some big buckets when we needed them.”

Looking ahead to Sunday’s visit to Chester, James acknowledged that he will be facing a team on the rise, commenting: “Phoenix have some players on their roster with big reputations and they have now taken six wins on the bounce. We will need to be focused.”

When asked if he foresaw any difficulties in dealing with Cheshire’s latest signing, 7 foot 8 inches, ex-Harlem Globetrotter, Paul Sturgess, James deadpanned: “Just his height.”

Thurman pulled down an impressive 14 rebounds to accompany his 27 points. Williams also contributed a double-double of statistics, with ten points and ten boards. Owumi ended the evening with 26 points, including four three-pointers.

The next home outing for Wolves will take place at the University of Worcester Arena on Friday 19 December when former crowd favourite Zaire Taylor returns to the city with his new team, London Lions.