HEAD coach Matt Newby hailed his Worcester Wolves side after they kicked off the new British Basketball League campaign by trouncing the much-fancied London Lions 92-67 in the BBL Cup.
Lions topped last season’s league standings as well as triumphing in the cup competition. In contrast to London having retained most of the key players in their double-winning squad, Wolves have instead completely overhauled last year’s under-achieving roster.
A tight first-half closed with hosts Worcester 47-42 ahead. But an overpowering 25-8 third-quarter allowed Wolves to race off into the distance and decide the contest.
London’s Brandon Peel had thumped in 24 points by half-time but could muster only a half-dozen more.
“Worcester has always had a passionate fan-base. We have to give them a product that they can be receptive to and enjoy,” Newby said.
“We want to make sure fans enjoy how we play and can identify with players who are great role models who they want to have representing their city.
“This was a step in the right direction – we have a group of guys fully invested in the programme at this club.”
Jordan Williams jumped highest to grab the ball at tip-off and seconds later backed down his defender to put the hosts in front.
Raheem May-Thompson was the recipient of a cheeky behind-the-back assist from Maarten Bouwknecht which he then floated in from three-point range. Further triples from Kofi Josephs and Mark Hughes edged Wolves 23-20 ahead and similar accuracy from Cortez Edwards put the home advantage at 28-24 entering the second quarter. But each time Worcester threatened to extend the gap, Peel brushed aside his markers to keep Lions in contention.
However, half-time defensive adjustments succeeded in finally curtailing Peel’s output. At the same time Wolves exploded at the offensive end. American big man Merrill Holden notched debut scores close to the basket and Josephs went to town from outside the arc.
Joseph’s first triple after the break saw a 56-46 lead. The last of a trio of similar bombs doubled the margin to 70-50 in the final minute of the third period. Oozing confidence, Josephs shimmied to the hoop to end his outburst of scoring and bring a large University of Worcester Arena crowd to their feet in delight.
Four Worcester players scored in double-digits. Josephs led the way with 20 points followed by 16 for Edwards. Bouwknecht and Williams both notched 13 points with the latter also grabbing 11 rebounds and supplying nine assists.
Wolves travel to the Surrey Scorchers on Saturday (September 28) and the Bristol Flyers on October 4. The next visitors to the University of Worcester Arena will be London City Royals on Friday, October 11.