After this weekend’s games in the BBL Championship, the attention of all Worcester Wolves fans will now be switching to the BBL Cup.
This Saturday the Wolves will face Plymouth Raiders at the University of Worcester in the first leg of the BBL Cup semi-final, with the return leg taking place the next day in Plymouth.
With the teams having already faced each other three times this season, a fierce rivalry has been brewing. In their first meeting, back in October, the Wolves were humiliated in front of their own supporters 62-85. In previous seasons that sort of defeat might have been the trigger to send subsequent results into free-fall. However the new look squad that Director of Basketball Paul James has built is made of much sterner stuff.
A week later the Wolves got swift revenge, winning 96-85 on Plymouth’s own court, in a victory that was to be the first of eight in a row. Never before has there been such an impressive start to a season in Worcester. While the new American trio of forward Tommy Freeman, centre Richie Gordon, and point guard Sherrad Prezzie-Blue have all featured in the BBL Team of the Week in recognition of their individual performances, James is quick to point out the value of an all-round squad of contributors:
“There are no big stars in our side. It’s all about a team ethic. We’ve found a way to win close games that we might have lost in previous seasons, and we’ve done this without having to rely on just one or two players.”
Included in the record-breaking run of victories was another thrilling 77-76 win over Raiders a couple of weeks ago, decided by a late basket from Sherrad Prezzie-Blue. In the aftermath of the win, James led his players in taking a theatrical curtain call-style double bow to the audience. Whilst this delighted the delirious home fans, Plymouth players and their sizeable band of travelling supporters can only have been irritated by this action.
Nevertheless, Raiders’ coach Gavin Love played down his disappointment: “It was a tough game. The Wolves did well, and we did okay.”
When asked if the game would have any bearing on the Cup semi-final, Love denied this, stating: “It has no significance at all.”
With dogged battles taking place at various positions on the court between the likes of Richie Gordon and the Raiders’ own big men, and between Prezzie-Blue and last year’s League MVP Jeremy Bell, it remains to be seen whether Love’s words will ring true.
Semi-final tickets are still on sale from the University Sports Centre Reception Desk. Spectators are advised to secure their tickets as soon as possible to avoid missing out on what will be the biggest game yet in Wolves short 12-year history.