Hildreth: The future is looking bright

Worthing Thunder coach Daniel Hildreth pictured during a time-out
Worthing Thunder coach Daniel Hildreth pictured during a time-out

WORTHING Thunder Basketball Club coach Daniel Hildreth believes the club’s future is looking bright.

He plans to speak to all of his squad in the coming days to find out their plans for next year, after a campaign where Thunder’s season ended in the quarter-finals of the National League Division 1 play-offs.

The team also reached the semi-finals of the National Cup and the quarter-finals of the National Trophy and Hildreth believes the future is looking encouraging.

He said: “The club is, hands down, the best in the league with regards to what it offers, its fan base and, partnered with a very successful junior programme, the future is very bright.

“I am honoured to be part of it and am looking forward to next season already.

“I will be speaking with all the players over the next few days to discuss their future with the club or elsewhere, and I look forward to exciting times ahead.”

Looking back on last season, Hildreth felt losing Joe Carter and Alex Barbary to injuries were massive blows, while Jakub Bogusz and John Wilkins departed during the season and Jack Sunderland’s appearances were limited by university commitments.

Despite that, Thunder sealed a seventh-place finish in National League Division 1 and Hildreth felt his side had the best player in the league in Milton Chavis.

He said: “As a whole, I am really pleased that we were able to make the play-offs again after a season of absence.

“When I think back to the start of the year and the changes the team has endured, losing two key players in Joe and Alex before we even got going was massive for us.

“Both were playing exceptionally well before their injuries and both made an immediate impact on their return, which made their absence even more obvious.

“Couple this with losing Jack Sunderland to university and Kuba (Jakub Bogusz) to work, we were very light in the guard department. However, Brendan Okoronkwo and some of the other guys stepped up to the plate and kept us more than competitive.

“Another blow was losing big John Wilkins just before Christmas, again due to work commitments. Once again, guys like Tomas Seduikis continued to perform, even out of position.

“My goal as head coach is to combine the junior and local talent, with imports that can fill in the missing pieces. Hank Rivers is a beast in this league and often played hurt and tired due to extended minutes.

“Milton Chavis was, in my opinion, the best player in the league and certainly put on a show every time he stepped on court. Not only his talent but his character was a class above the rest.

“When a junior player is given an opportunity, you aren’t always sure how they will fare with the change in level but I believe you will never know until they have that chance.

“Selby Hind-Wills and Josh Brown proved the theory right and made a great impact to the team as solid role players.”

Kent Crusaders were crowned National League Division 1 play-off champions on Sunday after a 77-66 win over Manchester Magic in the final.

In the semi-finals, Kent had beaten league champions Essex Leopards 61-51 and Manchester had defeated Derby, who knocked Thunder out in the quarter-finals, 83-76.