WORCESTER Wolves rounded off their pre-season schedule by participating in the Betway British Basketball All-Stars Championship at London’s O2 Arena on Sunday.
Heading into the tournament on the back of pre-season victories against Sheffield Sharks and Bristol Flyers, the University of Worcester Arena outfit struggled to compete in the new-format competition as they were dumped out at the pool stages with one win from three.
With the Championship featuring a raft of one-off introductions such as ten-minute matches, a running game clock, a two-minute power-play period and an opportunity to take five-point shots, the games came thick and fast for head coach Paul James’ side.
In Wolves’ opener against Sheffield Sharks, Brandon Parrish and George Beamon both connected with six-point shots, whilst Elvisi Dusha thrilled spectators by sinking the afternoon’s first ten-pointer during the power-play.
However, Worcester fell victim to one of the new rules as a 35-32 lead was overturned at the death by a five-point buzzer-beater from Sharks’ Edgar McKnight.
Their next game against Surrey Scorchers featured a rare opportunity for assistant coach Alex Radu to take the spotlight.
A fraction before Parrish floated home one of four long-distance successes, Radu was on hand to slam down the golden buzzer and thereby double Wolves’ points tally.
The eventual 33-20 win over Surrey set up a final pool stage clash against Bristol Flyers, which Wolves had to win to stand any chance of advancing to the semi-finals, but despite building an early lead, they were unable to stay with their relentless opponents, succumbing to a 36-21 defeat.
Speaking after the tournament, James said: “I guess we should have fouled them (Sharks) and run out the clock rather than give up the five-pointer.
“London looked good. They have a host of talent, including (Justin) Robinson who I coached in the Great Britain under-21s,” he added.
Wolves kick-off their British Basketball League campaign on Friday when they take on London Lions, who won the All-Stars Championship, at the University of Worcester Arena (tip-off 7.30pm).