TRIUMPHANT Worcester Wolves secured British basketball’s first silverware of the season after a pulsating 67-59 BBL Cup final victory over Bristol Flyers in front of record-breaking crowd at Arena Birmingham.
Large numbers of the Wolfpack were among the 9,244 spectators entertained by a clash Wolves led from start to finish, but which remained undecided until the final moments.
Having accumulated a 41-27 lead early in the second half, Flyers closed to just 63-59 with half a minute remaining before clever clock control by the Wolves settled matters and allowed the celebrations to begin. Centre Amir Williams, back from injury, was named Most Valuable Player.
Wolves chief Matt Newby hailed his players for putting their game plan into practice and lavished praise on the franchise for their support since his arrival last July.
“They followed the scouting report, adhered to the game plan and we kept Bristol’s key players in check,” he said.
“A sports franchise is never easy to manage. Director of basketball Mick Donovan has produced a programme from scratch and has given me the opportunity to come to Worcester.
“Winning means such a lot for the club, for all our fans and for me personally. I’ve had highs and lows in basketball so being a part of this success in Worcester means a great deal.”
Williams grabbed the game’s first rebound and the opening score. Mark Hughes dribbled from side-to-side for Wolves’ next basket and took an offensive charge to steal Flyers’ possession.
Julius Van Sauers froze Bristol defenders with an artful shimmy and Maarten Bouwknecht caused further torment with a pinpoint pass to a wide-open Williams to ensure Wolves went into the break with a 34-25 cushion.
Williams bookended the interval scoring with Cortez Edwards supplying the assist to kick off the third quarter.
Worcester’s man-in-the-middle was proving irrepressible on offense and joined team-mates in stout defence to ensure the Flyers were left grounded in their bid to keep pace with the scoring.
Bristol’s third triple of the afternoon from 14 attempts kept them in contention trailing 52-46 early in the last quarter but Williams signed off his Most Valuable Player final performance with a couple of blocked shots and a two-handed slam dunk.
Williams notched up an outstanding 23 points, 13 rebounds and five block on an afternoon to remember.
“The credit for the MVP award goes to my team-mates. I owe it all to them,” he said. “They put me in great positions to score and defensively I was able to block shots and clean up the glass.”
The newly-crowned BBL Cup champions host the Newcastle Eagles at the University of Worcester Arena on Friday (tip-off 7.30pm).