WORCESTER Wolves saw out 2015 in fine style with a thrilling 79-75 victory over London Lions.
The Worcester outfit entertained a large audience at the University of Worcester Arena on Sunday (December 27), where they held the lead through large parts of the contest, but never by a comfortable margin.
Within the final couple of minutes the visitor’s held the advantage at 69-75, before Ashton Khan let fly with a long-distance effort which dropped through the net, prompting a London time out.
From the re-start a wayward pass from former Wolves forward Jamal Williams was pounced upon by Orlan Jackman, setting up another basket for Khan.
Within seconds Jackman forced Williams into a further error, this time precipitating a score for Jay Couisnard, bringing the crowd to their feet and regaining the lead at 77-75, before a double of free throws from Javier Mugica sealed the win.
In a match where four Wolves players scored in double figures, it was Mugica who led the way. Playing the entire 40 minutes, the Spanish forward tallied 20 points and pulled down 17 rebounds.
Pavol Losonsky put forward 16 points, while Khan and Jackman contributed 14 and 12 points respectively.
Three-year Worcester stalwart Alex Owumi was warmly applauded on his return to the city with his new employers, but missed his first three shot attempts before finally connecting in a first quarter which ended with Wolves a point ahead at 14-13.
The second period continued in similar fashion with neither side able to pull clear, as Owumi made the second and third of what would turn out to be his five three-pointers in the game, while Losonsky and Mugica provided the bulk of Worcester’s output.
Entering the third quarter with a slender 34-33 lead, a 7-0 run for the hosts was finalised when Losonsky converted from an impressive pass by Khan.
However, nine points from their ever dangerous centre Demond Watt allowed Lions to roar back into contention, trailing at just 57-56 as the last quarter began and setting the scene for the final minutes of the afternoon’s drama.
Head coach Paul James said: “We couldn’t have had a better way to end the year. Those last few minutes provided a spectacle which kept people on the edge of their seats. We stayed with our game and kept believing we could win.
“Javi was superb, outrageous even. He is just getting better and better with every game he plays.
“We had great support to help us over the line. The next few matches will show what we are about in performing away from our own crowd and creating our own atmosphere and spirit.”
Wolves now face a spell of four away games in a row, beginning at Surrey Scorchers this Saturday (January 2), before journeying to Bristol Flyers and Cheshire Phoenix the following weekend and ending at Sheffield Sharks on Friday January, 15.