Thunder crash at home to Plymouth

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WORTHING Thunder Basketball Club crashed to their heaviest home defeat of the season on Saturday after a disastrous second half at home to Plymouth Raiders on Saturday.

Thunder went down by 32 points, 115-83, in the first of their five successive home games in the BBL Championship.

After a poor first quarter, which Thunder lost 29-15, they were soon 17 points down midway through the second stanza but they fought back to trail by just three, 48-45, at half-time. However, they then went down 31-19 in the third quarter and 36-19 in the final period as Plymouth recorded a comfortable win.

Thunder coach Gary Smith was with his players for 45 minutes in the changing room after the game and said: “A lot of people were getting their points across.

“Nothing was done in a disrespectful way but there’s a lot of pent-up anger as we’ve lost 14 or 15 games now this season.

“This was a game we wanted to do well in. It’s the first of a run of home games, of which we need to win one, two or three.

“It was a great game to start it off with and we put ourselves in a position in the first half to give ourselves a chance. We had started terribly in the first five minutes but we changed one or two things for the second quarter, put some fire in their hearts and played with more passion but we then didn’t do it for the third and fourth quarters.

“Maybe we need to change the starting line-up for the second half of games. We started with five solid players in the second half but, maybe, we just need to change that and see if it makes a difference.

“It was good to see Dominic Baker come on and bring some energy. He can shoot the ball and I might see if I can get him in there.”

Plymouth scored the first six points of the contest as Thunder made a slow start and Smith called a time-out after 1min 46secs when Thunder had still to register on the scoreboard.

Things did not really improve much in the first stanza, though, and Plymouth were well worth their 14 point lead at the end of the quarter.

Plymouth increased their advantage to 17 points at 34-17 with just over eight minutes of the second quarter left but Thunder then started to come back into the game. They had a seven-point run through Marlin Capers’ two-pointer and five points from the impressive Sherrad Prezzie-Blue, who was the game’s top-scorer with 32 points.

After a basket from Plymouth’s Jerome Gumbs, Thunder then went on another 7-0 run, which included an excellent Baker three, to close the gap to 36-31 as the home side upped the intensity.

They closed the gap to a point at 44-43 with 1min 37sec left of the quarter and Prezzie-Blue then missed a two-point attempt which would have given Thunder the lead.

Plymouth finished the half with a three-point lead after Prezzie-Blue’s buzzer-beating three-point attempt bounced out but Thunder were slow out of the blocks in the third quarter and Plymouth took control.

They had stormed into a 64-50 lead midway through the quarter and, from then on, Thunder never looked like getting back into the match.

Plymouth’s Evaldas Zabas, against his former side, topped his side’s scoring with 31 points, which included four three-pointers from as many attempts, and another former Thunder man, Sam Cricelli, got a run-out in the closing stages.

Anthony Rowe and Lehmon Colbert both put down 18 points for the visitors and debutant Gumbs scored 17 and Otis Polk 16.

Prezzie-Blue’s 32 points included seven three-pointers from 10 attempts, while Mansour Mybe scored 15 points, Marlin Capers 14 and Shaun Durant had another double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

Prezzie-Blue is backing Thunder to hit the winning trail again soon and said: “The second quarter was probably the best quarter of basketball we have played since I have been here.

“We played as a unit, defended well, managed to get great looks at the basket and it translated into a comeback. The game felt so good at points and we showed a lot of promise. I feel we are close to being able to get wins but we have to put a full 40 minutes together.

“Obviously, Plymouth are on a roll and exploited the fact that we didn’t play for the full 40 minutes”

Adam Williams missed the game with a broken finger, which could keep him out for a few more weeks yet, and Durant misses Saturday’s game at home to Guildford Heat with a one-game ban.