WORTHING Thunder Basketball Club captain James Brame has issued a rallying cry to the town to come out and support the club in their BBL home match with Essex Pirates on Saturday.
Thunder have reduced the admission charge to £5 a head for the game, which starts at 7.30pm at Worthing Leisure Centre, in the hope of attracting their largest crowd of the season.
Thunder revealed last week that they need to raise £10,000 to see out the remainder of the season.
They went some way to that amount with a substantial kit sponsorship with Worthing sweet shop Candy Love.
Now, Brame, 30, who has played for the club for 10 years, hopes Saturday’s ticket offer will be the start of fans returning to watch the club and said: “It would be great if the people of Worthing come out, so we can get a big crowd.
“It’s very important to keep the club running and Sussex basketball, as a whole, needs a team.
“We’ve got a very good junior programme here and the south coast has provided a lot of good players, who have gone on to play in America.
“All youngsters need a club to aspire to be involved with and we have to keep the club here.”
Brame wants the Leisure Centre to again be the place to be on a Saturday night – like it was when he was at college – and said: “I got into basketball when I was young and followed the Worthing Bears in the 90s.
“At high school, I’d come here every Saturday and would have to stand because the seats had all sold out, but it was the place to be on a Saturday night.
“I was then coached by Gary Smith as a junior, before I started to play for the team but, without a team here, I wouldn’t have got involved in basketball.
“It’s something the town needs and, with the right promotion, we can get it back to how it used to be.
“A lot of people in the town don’t know there’s a basketball club here, so we we need to let people know – schools, colleges, businesses, families, everyone, because it’s a great night out.
“Three years ago, we came up into the top league and we don’t want to lose that.”
On a reason for people who have never watched basketball before to head to the game, Brame said: “It’s an entertaining evening and a high speed, action-packed game, with dancers and music and a fantastic atmosphere.
“Without knowing the rules, you can follow the game and there’s so much scoring, athleticism and big players, and it’s family fun and a different night out.”
On the game itself, Thunder are second from bottom, and Essex are winless and bottom and Brame said: “It’s so important to our season and we really need to win to keep them behind us.
“No one wants to be the team who gives them their first win but people need to realise that they’re still a full-time, professional team and train at least once every day, while we train just three times a week.
“But, I believe we will win and to have a big crowd watching will make such a difference and will make it a great atmosphere.”
Anyone who attends Saturday’s game will be able to buy a ticket for Thunder’s home game with Guildford Heat on February 26 for £5, but the offer will not be available on the day of the Heat game.