Thunder's 16-straight wins close-out
IT'S BEEN a closing 16 wins in a row for Worthing Thunder in completing the retained English Basketball League title they actually wrapped up a week ago with two matches to spare, reports Richard Amey.
At the weekend, in finishing their regular season fixture list with two home matches, they defeated Manchester Magic 104-94 to offset the league loss at Manchester early in the season, and also their defeat to the Magic in the National Cup Final in early January.
Then on Sunday, they met eighth-placed Solent Stars, whom they will take on this coming Saturday in the quarter-finals of the Play-offs Championship, and won 129-108.
Janis Ivanovskis, recovering from a cold during the week, came storming off the bench in the second quarter to tackle the six-point deficit Thunder incurred without him in the opening quarter. He helped Thunder finally wipe out the arrears in the third quarter but inconsistent refereeing included calling Thunder's Marcus Avant for an unsportsmanlike foul. Avant's dissent incurred two technical fouls and he was ejected from the game. But Thunder showed their championship quality by emerging from that traumatic quarter three points ahead.
Get the Herald this week to hear how Manchester coach Jeff Jones rates this champion Thunder team.
On Sunday, Thunder began with three bench role players in their starting five against a capable Solent team already assured of eighth place and without the suspended Nick Oharabe.
Stars swept into an 18-2 lead but the introduction of Worthing starters Alfredo Ott and Janis Ivanovskis soon closed the gap and it was 55-55 at half-time. It was not until the third that Thunder hit the front but they did so by scoring 50 points in the third quarter, in which Solent's contribution spelt a points avalanche of 71 in the period.
Earl Moore's 44 points for Solent led the game and Antonio Bright hit a sparkling 29. Both these Americans are worth the admission money and with Oharabe in the mix, it looks a feisty and testing play-offs opening round for Thunder on Saturday.
It will tip off at 8pm (6 adultds, 4 children, 16 family ticket).
See www.worthingtoday.co.uk for news of the Thunder end-of-season awards