WORTHING Thunder Basketball Club crashed to their heaviest-yet defeat in the BBL Championship on Saturday when Newcastle Eagles cruised to a 112-67 win at Worthing Leisure Centre.
The 45-point loss was Thunder’s worst defeat since joining the BBL in 2008 and was two more than when Thunder lost to the same opponents, albeit away, 113-70 in March last year.
Thunder lost the first quarter 27-14 and were then 46-32 behind at half-time before any hopes of a comeback were ended in emphatic fashion by Newcastle after the break as Thunder lost for the 12th successive match, while Eagles’ victory was their 10th in a row in the league.
Thunder had beaten Eagles on their last two league visits to Worthing but a Thunder win never looked on the cards and, speaking afterwards, Thunder captain James Brame said: “It’s tough playing against a lot of quality players.
“They’re an outstanding team and play hard, with a lot of intensity, and their standard never dropped.
“They’ve played together for a lot of years, they’re always up there and I think they’ll win the league again this year.
“It’s tough for us at the moment and we’ve found it hard to find our feet. We’ve got to play more team basketball, rather than one pass and shoot. If we miss the shot and the other team breaks fast, we’re another two points down.
“It’s hard to take positives out of it but, in spells, we moved the ball well and did our thing.
“Basketball’s all about getting on runs. We had two little runs and it felt like they had a 40-minute run.
“But we’ve got to make sure we fight every minute and every play and we didn’t do that today.”
On the future, Brame said: “Gary Smith (coach) is here for two years and we’ve got to improve and get a core squad.
“Apart from Pepe, who came back, I’m the only player from last year still here and we’ve got to find some continuity but things can only get better.”
Thunder got the first points with a pair of Brame free throws to lead for the first time in four matches but that was as good as it got.
Smith called two time-outs during the early stages of the first quarter, at 9-4 and 19-4 down, as his side just could not cope with an impressive Eagles team.
Eagles increased their lead to 42-21 during the second stanza but Thunder fought back to trail by 14 at half-time.
However, Eagles then put the result beyond any doubt in the first three minutes of the third quarter with a 17-4 run.
Newcastle ended up winning the stanza 34-22 and won the final period 32-13 when Thunder’s Shaun Durant and Cleve Woodfork both fouled out.
Pepe Zafirov topped Thunder’s scorers with 16 points and Durant and Mansour Mybe both sank 12 each. Joe Chapman led Eagles’ scoring with 27 points, while Andrew Bridge scored 20, Charles Smith 15, Trey Moore 13 and former Thunder centre Kadiri Richard sank 12 points and had 14 rebounds.
Thunder host BBL Cup champions Sheffield Sharks on Saturday (7.30pm).