Durham Wildcats pulled off a shock victory on the road as they defeated the Worcester Wolves 82-76. In the night’s other game, Surrey Heat were dominant in their 106-45 win over the Mersey Tigers.
New signing Mike Baldarelli impressed for the Wildcats with 25 points with Andrew Keister and Paul Elderkin both adding a further 18 points. Durham came out strong after half-time and the third quarter provided a platform for the win.
The defeat will come as a blow for Worcester having gone into the new campaign with high hopes following a successful 2011-12 season. Paul James was without key man, Sherad Prezzie-Blue as Alex Owumi stepped up with 24 points to lead the scoring.
The opening quarter was an even affair and it took a late three from Stan Ocitti to give Worcester a slender 21-18 advantage. A 7-2 burst in the second gave the home side their largest lead of the night at 37-31- which became 40-35 at the interval.
Durham took the lead momentarily with an early 8-0 run in the third before closing out the quarter with a duplicate run as Keith Page and Baldarelli both netted from long range. Five points from Owumi put the home side back in front but another triple from Baldarelli sparked an 11-2 spell for the Wildcats to help his side lead 75-67.
Worcester closed to within six points but they were to be kept at bay as Durham’s new American continued to make his mark from beyond the arc with a sixth three to take his tally to 25 points.
Meanwhile, the Mersey Tigers fall from grace continued after a heavy defeat at the Surrey Sports Park. Fielding an entirely new roster, the 2010-11 treble winners were comfortably beaten as Surrey Heat showed no signs of missing ex-captain, Mike Martin or Tayo Ogedengbe.
The writing was on the wall early on as the home side opened up a commanding 20 point lead (30-10) after the opening ten minutes, largely down to a run of 22 unanswered points. There was no rest-bite for the Tigers in the second as Surrey opened with a 12-2 run and powered their way to a 56-22 advantage at half-time.
Surrey restricted their opponents to just eight points in the third whilst taking an 83-30 lead into the final ten minutes on the back of a 19-0 run in which Martelle McLemore contributed nine. The final quarter was the most even of the four with Surrey able to utilise their bench as they sailed past the century mark.
Samuel Cricelli produced a game high 21 points with the returning Frank Holmes adding a double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds. His namesake, Chavis, posted impressive stats of 15 points, 6 rebounds and 9 assists. Mersey’s centre, Chris Bigley top scored with 13 points but was the only player to reach double figures.
The action-packed opening to the 2012-13 BBL season continues on Sunday with Durham in action again at home to the Glasgow Rocks and London Lions hosting the Newcastle Eagles at Crystal Palace.