WORTHING Thunder Basketball Club got their competitive season underway on Sunday with a nail-biting 74-73 win at Team Solent in the EBL Cup.
Thunder, who will play in Division 1 of the EBL this season, won at division-lower Solent when Francesco Amato rebounded his own missed shot to score on the buzzer.
Thunder had led 42-32 at half-time but Solent fought back with 9-0 and 6-3 runs in the second half to level the score at 49-49 as the lead changed hands 13 times.
Chris Talley’s two-pointer gave Thunder a 72-70 lead with 22.4 seconds left, before Solent called a time-out.
Solent went ahead with a three-pointer with 11.7 seconds left on the clock. The ball then went of play and Thunder had the in-bound ball. Courtney Small got a shot away, which hit the rim, Amato rebounded and missed, before he pulled down another rebound and planted the ball in the basket.
The buzzer had gone during the final plays and, after the three referees had a brief mid-court conference, the basket was confirmed as good to give Thunder the win.
Thunder captain James Brame said: “We didn’t play very well but Solent shot well and we shot poorly.
“It was a weird game as it was a very small court and we gave away a lot of turnovers as we kept putting our foot over the line when we went for three-pointers.
“We got out of jail but it doesn’t matter if you win by one or win by 100, it’s still a win.
“We’ll learn from our mistakes as we’re all new to each other.
“Solent probably deserved to win but we scraped through and it’s a good confidence boost for us.”
Chris Talley top-scored with 16 points for Thunder, while Courtney Small sank 13, Liam Mitchell 12, Amato 12, Dominic Baker 11 and Jack Sunderland 10.
Amato grabbed 14 rebounds, Small and Brame nine each and Mitchell eight.
Thunder will now host Plymouth Marjon in the next round on October 9.
Thunder entertain Bristol Academy in the EBL Trophy on Saturday, with a 7.30pm tip-off at Worthing Leisure Centre. American Marcus Tullis will make his Thunder debut and Adam Martin and Tomas Seduikis are back available.