WORCESTER Wolves garnered their first win in the 2020 British Basketball League by putting together a late flourish to overcome Manchester Giants 84-76 at the University of Worcester Arena.
There was barely a gap between the teams for the majority of the match. At seven minutes to go the scoreboard stood at 68-68 until Wolves’ guard Micah Elan produced a scoring explosion to propel his side to victory.
Jordan Williams backed down a gaggle of defenders to open the evening and moments later spun around his man for a powerful dunk.
Manchester were unable to prevent a series of successful drives to the hoop by Maarten Bouwknecht that nudged the hosts into a 21-18 first-quarter lead.
Foul trouble came to the fore by the second period with Williams and fellow big man Matthew Bryan-Amaning both obliged to take seats on the bench.
But Wolves still held sway by 43-39 at half-time on the back of Bouwknecht further showcasing his offensive arsenal with a trio of three-pointers.
Bouwknecht finalised his swaggering 29 personal points after stripping the ball from his tormented opposite number, Jack Hudson, and Josh McSwiggan swung on the basket after profiting from a clever Williams assist.
Giants’ dangerous forward Lyle Hexom provided a swift seven points to restrict the home advantage to just 63-62 entering the final period.
Elan established daylight between the teams with a long-range success followed by a tip-in of a Henry Wilkins attempt.
On their next possession a rattled Manchester failed to put up a shot within the permitted 24-seconds, Elan connected yet again and it was suddenly 78-70 with three minutes remaining, effectively deciding the contest.
A half-century of points came from Bouwknecht and Elan, with Bryan-Amaning presenting a ten points and ten rebounds double-double performance.
“Micah has it in him to score like that if we find him in the right place at the right time,” said Wolves’ coach Matt Newby. “Maarten also had quite a game, showing killer instinct.
“I thought Matthew and Jordan really controlled Manchester’s bigs and marshalled the interior.
Next up for Wolves is a double of trips to title-challenging sides. On Friday, December 18 (7.30pm), they travel to Newcastle Eagles, followed by a visit to the capital on Monday, December 21 (7pm) to meet London Lions.
“We’re happy with today’s result but are very mindful that we now have to be ready for two of the BBL’s front-runners,” added Newby.
“Newcastle and London have both had their rosters together for some time and both have deep squads. We have to prepare as well as we can to negate their assets.”