WORTHING Thunder Basketball Club overcame London Capitals 98-81 on Sunday evening to keep their ambitions of gaining a home seed in the EBL play-offs alive, having already confirmed qualification.
Thunder are level on points at the top of the EBL Division 1 table with Derby Trailblazers, London Leopards and Bristol Academy Flyers but are bottom of the four-way tie due to a mixture of head-to-head results (Derby and Bristol) and games in hand (Leopards).
Capitals ran Thunder close in the reverse fixture earlier this season, but Thunder were able to settle quickly at home, thanks to an opening three-pointer from Marcus Tullis and developed a 26-16 lead in the first quarter as Capitals struggled to convert their opportunities, particularly from the free-throw line.
Thunder increased their lead up to 22 points at one stage in the second quarter at 47-25 but Captials fought back to trail by just nine at 51-42 at half-time, mainly thanks to Ibrahim Gariba’s sharp shooting as he led all scorers with 34 points.
After trading baskets at the start of the third, Capitals seemed to get a second wind, and pushed forward and almost levelled the game midway through the quarter as Pierre Henry-Fontaine brought it to within three at 56-53 with just over six minutes left. But Thunder went on a 7-0 run to give them another double-digit advantage and increased their lead to 75-58 by the end of the stanza.
Thunder’s lead grew to 24 points at one stage during the final quarter at 92-68, but Capitals fought back to close the deficit to 17 by the end.
In a professional performance from Thunder, Marcus Tullis led the way with 30 points and six rebounds. Hank Rivers had another double-double with 27 points and 13 rebounds, while Bud Johnston scored 18 points and had eight rebounds.
Gariba and Henry-Fontaine, with 27 points, were the only two Capitals players to reach double figures.
Thunder captain James Brame said: “It was a bit of a scrappy game, but, overall, I thought it was a good team performance.
“We need to get sharper as we start to play the teams nearer the top, but we just have to try to keep winning, finish in the top four and get that home seed in the play-offs.”
Tullis added: “Every game from here on out is vital. We’re just taking it game by game trying to get home court advantage.”
Thunder go to Reading Rockets on Saturday as they look to put a winning run together and build momentum ahead of next month’s play-offs.