WORCESTER Wolves interim head coach Tony Garbelotto praised the contribution of the Wolfpack as his side recorded a winning weekend which included upsetting Plymouth Raiders 91-74 on their own court.
Friday’s (February 15) 84-79 win over Surrey Scorchers was Wolves’ first victory in the British Basketball League since the opening day in September against the Raiders.
While still bottom of the British Basketball League (BBL), Wolves have now closed the gap on the Scorchers after Sunday’s (February 17) victory over former director of basketball Paul James’ new team and will hope to climb the away from the foot of the division.
“It’s a win for the fans – they’re the ones who needed this. I’m extremely happy for them,” Garbelotto said after Friday’s win.
“We played well in the first half to get twenty points ahead but then took our foot off the gas. But a win is a win and we now have to build on it.”
Wolves recovered from a 14-21 first-quarter deficit with a rampaging 27-9 run to turn the tables by half-time and held onto their new-found belief to see out the success.
Seven points from Deshawn Freeman contributed to a 14-14 tie with a couple of minutes left in the opening quarter. But an equal number of Raiders’ points to end the period gave Wolves work to do.
Jordan Whelan was the catalyst for a fightback. A score and a bonus foul shot was followed by a three-pointer. A length-of-the-court assist for Freeman to convert restored parity at 23-23.
Whelan’s hot streak continued with another triple before he tipped the ball out of Plymouth hands and raced down-court for a layup.
The half concluded with Freeman rising above the rim to jam home a Darell Combs miss, icing a 41-30 advantage.
Raiders had no answer for Worcester’s swarming defence. Hands in faces and arms extended gave no opportunity for easy baskets.
Entering the final period 57-49 ahead, Wolves’ swagger remained. Big man Lester Prosper patrolled inside with Freeman while Alex Navajas sank consecutive threes to slap down any Plymouth resistance.
After fellow Spaniard Miki Servera also connected from distance in the final minute for a crushing 86-72 lead he engaged in a mid-court celebratory jig with his beaming team-mates.
Freeman pulsated with a 25 point/11 rebound double-double performance. Prosper put forward 14 points while Navajas and Whelan chipped in a dozen apiece.
Freeman expressed his delight at getting back on court and taking part in a win and said: “I’ve been out a while, it felt like months. I’m just happy to be back out with my teammates and to get the win today was amazing.”
Garbelotto praised his American forward and said: “We’ve really missed him. His energy alone is infectious. He’s a massive boost for us.”
Wolves will have nearly a fortnight’s break before they look to continue their welcome turn in fortunes when title-challenging Leicester Riders visit the University of Worcester Arena next Friday (March 1).