Thunder set for two clashes with Derby

Thunder's Milton Chavis slam dunks a basket in the win against Essex before Christmas
Thunder's Milton Chavis slam dunks a basket in the win against Essex before Christmas

WORTHING Thunder Basketball Club return to action this weekend, with two matches against Derby Trailblazers.

Thunder went into the two-week Christmas break on the back of four successive league wins and travel to National League Division 1 leaders Derby in the league on Saturday, before they host the same opponents in the National Trophy on Sunday.

Derby have won nine of their 11 league matches so far and sit two points clear of second-placed Essex Leopards, who have three games in hand.

Worthing are seventh in the table but level on points with the two sides immediately above them.

The two sides then meet again at Worthing Leisure Centre on Sunday, with a place in the semi-finals of the National Trophy up for grabs.

Worthing reached the last eight as they finished second in Pool 2, with four wins from their six matches. Derby won three and lost two games as they came third in Pool 1.

Looking ahead to the weekend games, Thunder coach Daniel Hildreth said: “After a short break, we are ready to get under way with yet another double header.

“It’s not often in the UK that you play the same team in back-to-back games, let alone from one night to the next.

“We travel to league leaders Derby, who have had an exceptional start to the season in their return to Division 1.

“They are a very solid team and have strength in numbers. We want to continue our winning streak in the league, after seeing off unbeaten Essex before the break.

“Each game is vital, even at this stage of the season, for final play-off places and I know that Derby wish to keep as big a gap as possible on the top spot.

“Sunday’s game is a quarter-final, with a semi-final most likely to be away to Manchester for the victors.

“Derby travel to the south coast for the first time this season and, having played each other on the Saturday night, both teams will have a better understanding of each other’s game, strengths and weaknesses.

“I’m sure, regardless of the first result, the losing team will want to seek revenge, so it will no doubt be a great contest.

“We have had an opportunity to practice over the break and are just looking forward to getting back into action.”

Saturday’s game is a 7.15pm tip-off in Derby, before Sunday’s game at Worthing Leisure Centre gets underway at 5pm.