Thunder out to avenge defeats to leaders Solent Kestrels

Worthing Thunder coach Daniel Gayle (centre)
Worthing Thunder coach Daniel Gayle (centre)

Worthing Thunder coach Daniel Gayle feels that his side owes Solent Kestrels a defeat when the teams meet at Worthing Leisure Centre on Saturday evening.

Solent are currently sitting on top of National League Division 1 with Thunder lying in third. The teams have met twice this season in the league and in the National Trophy, with Worthing coming up short in both encounters.

Since the sides last met in Division 1 back in October Thunder have been on a roll, climbing up to as high as second before a loss away to Leicester Warriors on Saturday.

On the flip side, Solent have climbed to the top of the table thanks in part to their American duo Joe Tagarelli and Herman Senor II. But, like Worthing, they suffered a setback last week, at home to Team Northumbria.

This makes Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash even more intriguing with Thunder looking to defend their unbeaten run at home in the league.

Thunder coach Gayle said: “I’m excited for the weekend. The league this year has been full of upsets and surprise results, it’s been highly competitive and exciting.

“We’ve played Solent twice this year and lost both times, so I feel we owe them one. We also haven’t lost at home during league play - mounted with the league standing implications - it’s a big game.”

Thunder go into the game having seen their seven-game unbeaten run come to an end at Leicester Warriors.

Despite 20 points from Zaire Taylor and a career-high 15 points for seven-footer Luke Attfield, a fourth-quarter collapse saw Thunder defeated 76-67.

As a result, coach Gayle’s side slipped one place to third and he admits every match is a must-win now.

He said: “Every game for us now is a must-win and our next two games are against two teams that we’ve lost to already.

“There’s a lot of pressure at the minute but this is what the players and myself love about the sport of basketball.”

Worthing Thunder have been given a major boost ahead of Saturday’s game against Solent by announcing the signing of American forward Marquis Mathis.

Mathis last played for Solent last season and his arrival gives Thunder an extra scoring option inside.

Mathis said: “I am looking forward to returning to the hardwood. I’m really excited about the opportunity to play for the Worthing Thunder.”

Sussex Bears went down 92-72 at Middlesex in Division 2 on Sunday. Bears sit seventh in the table.