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22nd Sep, 2021

Stern test lies in wait for Wolves

Rob George 21st Jan, 2021

WOLVES head coach Matt Newby has delivered a rallying call for his players to step up when title-chasing Leicester Riders visit the University of Worcester Arena.

Newby’s men entertain a Riders side who have lost just one of their six BBL games so far on Friday, January 22 from 7pm.

The East Midlands side have three games in hand on the teams above them – meaning a title challenge is in view for the Riders.

Speaking ahead of the clash, Newby said he was looking forward to his side taking to the court against the impressive visitors.

“We know that Leicester have good personnel and a good coach,” he said.

“It’s up to us to take responsibility for improvement. No disrespect to Cheshire and Bristol, but the likes of Leicester are the next step up in where we need to be.”

Wolves go into the encounter on the back of two wins in 48 hours which lifted them to fifth in the BBL standings with four wins and four losses from their opening eight games.

Friday’s 73-71 cliff-hanger over Cheshire Phoenix was followed up with 76-73 triumph vat Bristol Flyers on Sunday.

But Wolves fans watching proceedings from their settees were made to again bite their nails as they saw their team lose hold of a late double-digit lead before eventually squeezing out a win over their M5 neighbours.

Wolves’ big man pairing of Jordan Williams and Mike Parks set out their stall as the match began – slotting in all of the points in an unanswered 9-0 start. Bristol bounced back to restrict the visitors to an 18-16 first quarter edge.

Parks hooked the ball over his counterpart Marcus Delpeche and playmaker Maarten Bouwknecht drained successive three-pointers to leave Flyers calling for time out.

Williams continued to make his presence felt and Bouwknecht drilled another triple at the half-time buzzer to keep Worcester 37-32 in front.

Bristol’s inside resistance took a blow early in the second half as an accumulation of fouls forced Delpeche and latest recruit Justin Baker to seats on the bench.

Brandon Anderson notched scores either side of the third quarter interval to widen Wolves’ control at 60-50.

Josh McSwiggan emphasised his return from a lengthy injury with a head-down drive and thunderous slam but Flyers managed to maintain their shape.

By the final minute a turnaround jumper from Anderson put matters at 72-69 before multiple rebounds and a final decisive put-back from Raphell Thomas-Edwards kept the result in the balance with 21 seconds to go.

Exchanges of free throws between Anderson and Bristol guard Josh Wilcher and a last-gasp missed heave from the latter decided the victors.

Anderson led all scorers with 21 points, supported by 18 from Williams and 13 for Bouwknecht.

Newby hailed Wolves’ third straight win and reflected on another close encounter for his men.

“That’s the standard of the league now. Not many matches will be blowouts this season,” he said.

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