Thunder fall to two defeats

WORTHING Thunder Basketball Club failed to capitalise on last week’s success and endured a difficult weekend, going down 110-75 at Sheffield Sharks on Friday and 98-59 at Glasgow Rocks on Sunday.

Two tough BBL Championship road games against play-off-bound teams was always going to be a tricky task for a small squad like Thunder, but they really struggled without coach Gary Smith.

Smith was banned from courtside following last week’s incident during the Mersey Tigers game, and he handed over control of the team to captain James Brame.

But Brame could only stand and admire the performance of former Thunder player Ryan Patton during Friday’s game. The guard hit a game-high 24 points in what turned out to be a convincing win for the BBL Cup holders.

Thunder started the game well with Pepe Zafirov and Adam Williams striking from three-point range to restrict Sheffield to a 23-20 lead at the end of the first period.

Then Patton began to take over, hitting back-to-back threes to spark a 22-4 scoring run for Sharks to give the hosts a 52-33 half-time lead, from which Thunder never really recovered.

Worthing battled hard after the break, with Shaun Durant an effective presence under the basket as Thunder narrowed the gap to 13 points. But Patton’s return enabled Sharks to stretch the lead to 82-60 heading into the fourth quarter.

Although Thunder made another push at the start of the final stanza, a 20-7 Sharks run, including a seemingly impossible lay-up by Steve Dagostino, sealed victory for the hosts.

Brame was full of praise for former team-mate Patton, and said: “They’re a really stacked team and they’ll do well in the play-offs. But the key was Ryan. I got the chance to play with him for a year so I know what a good player he can be, but he was unplayable tonight.”

Adam Williams hit 16 points for Thunder, backed up by 15 from Durant and 14 from Sherrad Prezzie-Blue, but it was Patton’s 24 combined with Paul Williams’ 22 that made the difference for Sheffield.

Thunder ran into another impressive performance on Sunday, as a fast-start by Glasgow Rocks made the difference against a clearly tired Worthing starting five.

Thunder were optimistic of causing the upset, having lost narrowly at home to Rocks just two weeks ago but a succession of three-pointers from Michael Kingma and Mike Copeland in successive 7-1 and 9-1 scoring runs gave Rocks a 54-27 half-time lead.

Glasgow continued to pile on the pressure after the break and had extended their advantage to 79-38 by the end of the third period.

Thunder made a late rally with Dominic Baker firing them to a 14-7 run, but it was already over by then and Worthing fell to a second sizeable defeat of the weekend.

Despite Prezzie-Blue’s 16 points, Rocks were worthy winners behind Harrison’s 19 and Moses Mubarak’s 18.