Worthing Thunder guard Jorge Ebanks believes Worthing Thunder will face their toughest test of the season this weekend.
Thunder make the 700-mile round trip to take on both Team Newcastle University and reigning National League Division 1 champions Team Northumbria in what could prove to be a key double-header.
The matches come at a crucial time in the campaign, where positioning is everything as the race for the play-offs hots up.
Thunder currently sit third in an incredibly tight league, with all but one of the teams in the league in with a chance of making the post-season.
Worthing’s record in the north-east is woeful and they’ll hoping for an upturn in fortunes this coming weekend.
A meeting with Team Newcastle will be just the second meeting between the two but Thunder have never beaten university-based Team Northumbria away from home since they were promoted six years ago.
In fact you have to go all the way back to 2006 when Worthing last recorded a victory in the north-east, albeit on neutral ground as they beat Manchester Magic in the play-off final at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena.
Thunder beat both teams at home earlier in the season and Ebanks hopes they can complete doubles over both this weekend.
He said: “This will be a huge test for us. Not only because we’ve got two games back-to-back, but also because of the travel involved.
“We’ll probably spend more time on the bus than we will on the court so we have to be prepared mentally and physically because we got two tough games ahead of us. Newcastle and Northumbria are two strong teams and we cannot take them lightly.
“We head there now with a win. We’ve got over the two-game skid, and we did so against a tough team in Reading who are going for a spot in the top four so we will have confidence going into the weekend.”
A home 90-86 league win over Reading Rockets on Saturday injected a much-needed confidence boost following two defeats in the previous fixtures.
In a scrappy, yet thrilling game, a two-hand dunk from new signing Marquis Mathis with seconds left ultimately sealed the win.
New recruit Mathis ended the night with 27 points and ten rebounds, earning him the Barkers Tarring MVP award.
Mathis could not have asked for a better introduction and said: “It was a tough game but we played well as a team and remained focused when they put pressure on us.
“Credit to Reading though. During my time with Solent last season, they were so tough and it hasn’t changed.
“We wanted to come out and take care of business, this is an important period for us and we need to keeping winning to stay in the title hunt.”
Thunder remained in contention with the victory. Leaders Solent secured wins in successive days over the weekend, while second-placed Loughborough Student Riders easily dispatched Kent Crusaders.