WORTHING Thunder Basketball Club advanced into the semi-finals of the National Cup with a 91-80 victory over rivals Reading Rockets on Sunday evening.
Thunder did not look back after ending the first half with a 13-1 run to lead 45-35 at half-time and will now travel to division-lower Loughborough Student Riders in the last four.
The Thunder players only arrived back at Worthing Leisure Centre at 2.20am on Sunday morning – after losing away to Manchester Magic on Saturday evening – but there was little sign of fatigue or tiredness against a Reading side, who had not played the previous night.
In a back-and-forth opening quarter, Reading led 20-18 at the end of the first ten minutes but Thunder gradually took control as the second stanza reached its conclusion.
Josh Brown, Louis Allen and Tom Ward all sank three-pointers as Worthing finished the first half with a 13-1 run.
Thunder continued to find their range from distance in the third period – which lasted just over half-an-hour – as they sank five three-pointers in the quarter to open up a 71-57 advantage with ten minutes to play.
The hosts’ lead increased to 18 points early in the final quarter as Reading failed to register a point for the opening three minutes.
Reading closed the deficit in the closing stages with a full court press but Thunder remained calm under pressure and sealed their win from the free-throw line.
Ward led Thunder with 28 points, while Allen (16), Brendan Okoronkwo (13), Brown (11), James Cambronne (11) and Jack Sunderland (ten) also sank double figures.
Thunder coach Daniel Hildreth said: “The crazy thing in sport is hindsight. In hindsight, the best possible outcome for us was the manner in which we lost the game to Manchester.
“That gave us the encouragement and gave us the motivation to come out and put things right today.
“You could see that today, looking at the spread of the scoresheet with six guys in double figures, our shout all day was together. That’s both ends of the floor and defensively it was the best we’d played for a while.”
Thunder MVP Cambronne said: “Doing well with the team feels great and there’s nothing better than that and I thought it was a great win today.
“It was a long trip last night and the best thing to do is keep a positive mindset and we did what we were supposed to do today.”
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