Worthing Thunder fans set to welcome heroes back into action
Basketball makes a welcome return to the Thunderdome – aka Worthing Leisure Centre – on Saturday when a pre-season event takes place.
With a 6pm start, there will be a special challenge match between Zaire Taylor’s team and Ishmael Fontaine’s select side.
There will also be a couple of additional competitions, including a three-point shooting contest and an Olympics inspired three-on-three competition.
With the emphasis on making it a fun evening, Thunder’s squad for the new season will be introduced (subject to flights and arrivals).
With a mix of returners and new faces it looks to be a competitive squad.
They will be led once more by Zaire Taylor (for his fifth season ) in what is set to be his final year as a player and eighth-season returner Tom Ward. They’re two of Thunders favourites and will once again be out to entertain fans.
New faces include Jarred Dixon, a fast, exciting point guard from Kansas, and Hafiz Abdul, a 6ft 8in centre from London. Dixon has played in Europe before and has a high scoring record while Abdul a couple of years ago led the scoring/rebounding stats in the NBL before having a stint in Italy.
Also returning after a couple of years away are two big fan favourites, Jorge Ebanks and Kevin Moyo.
Both played in Thunder’s trophy-winning team with Ebanks being the MVP in the final.
Back for a second Thunder campaign is Howard Crawford.
The big American had a really strong year in the disappointing 20-21 season that had to be played behind closed doors. Now he’s set for the experience of playing in front of the best fans in the country.
The irrepressible Fontaine is back for his fourth year and local favourite Jack Sunderland is also on the books again.
Sunderland brings energy to the team doing all the things that don’t appear on the stats.
Local lads Nick Ballone (third season) and new man Dan Beard will be in the squad while Josh Goddard (fifth season) is also returning.
Fans are asked to be at the Thunderdome in plenty of time for the 6pm start. Safety checks will be in place.
Thunder co-owner Sara Jenner said: “We can’t wait to be back in the Thunderdome in front of crowds! We hope to have a great season this year but most of all, a safe one.”
Worthing’s D&D Basketball Club entered teams into each of the age groups in the summer league organised by Basketball Sussex.
All teams benefitted from playing competitively after such a long time - the last game played before the lockdown having been in March 2020.
With such a lot of interest, two teams were entered into both the men’s league and the under-16s as well as a team into each of the under-18, under-14 and under-12 leagues, with one of the men’s teams and the under-18s topping their leagues.
The club is now looking forward to getting back to training again and hoping for an uninterrupted season.
Junior sessions are offered from ages six to 18. For adults the men will be looking to defending their title both in the league and the cup.
D&D are also hoping to run a ladies’ team and there is a session for men aged 35+ with the possibility of entering a team into the Masters for men aged 40-plus.