21st Nov, 2019

Wolves eyeing last eight BBL Cup spot

Rob George 7th Nov, 2019

A TRIP to the capital to face London Lions awaits Worcester Wolves as Matt Newby’s men close in on a quarter-final place in the BBL Cup.

Wolves face the Lions on Friday (7.30pm) and Surrey Scorchers at the University of Worcester Arena next Friday (November 15) knowing a strong finish to the group stage will seal a home draw in the quarter-finals.

Finishing in one of the top two places will guarantee a last-eight match in Worcester against the third or fourth-placed finisher in the BBL Cup north group.

“Qualification now looks assured, but what we really want is a home game,” said Newby. “We have to travel to London and that won’t be easy and we then end against Surrey.

“If we get a home tie against a team from the north it’ll be anyone’s game,” he added.

A hard-fought 74-70 win over Bristol Flyers on Friday propelled Wolves to second place in their qualification pool with a 5-3 win-loss tally, just ahead of Bristol who hold a 4-3 record.

Jordan Williams profited from a double of tidy Mark Hughes assists and returned the favour to his team-mate to aid a 19-17 Worcester lead entering the second quarter.

Cortez Edwards soon extended the advantage before having to see his team’s offense stagnate. Flyers’ Gentrey Thomas produced a 16-point explosion in just a five-minute spell while Wolves struggled to muster less than half of that total for the remainder of the first half.

A dozen three-point attempts went up with only a single shot finding the target as Bristol established interval control at 40-28. The visitors remained in charge after the break, accepting repeated second-chance opportunities and disrupting their hosts’ attacks.

With seven minutes left Flyers still held sway at 65-54. An Edwards drive hinted at a revival and when the same player then powered past static defenders to stuff the ball through the hoop the comeback was on.

Dutch forward Julius Van Sauers missed a free-throw but his compatriot Maarten Bouwknecht snatched the rebound, dribbling out to the perimeter and confidently sinking his shot.

Bouwknecht drained another triple to tie matters at 68-68. With Bristol now uncertain of how to fend off his sudden offensive outburst they hesitated as Bouwknecht floated a sublime pass upwards for Williams to flush through the basket. A late flurry of successful free-throws sealed the outcome.

Coach Newby praised the fightback and said: “We weren’t happy about the way we played in the first half. Ultimately we had to make some choices about how hard we wanted to play and that’s what was pointed out at half-time.

“Sometimes it’s about tactics, sometimes it’s about technique and sometimes it’s about guts,” he said.

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