Worcester Wolves have won the BBL Trophy, their first piece of silverware since joining the BBL eight years ago, with an 83-76 victory over the Glasgow Rocks at the Emirates Arena.
Jamal Williams had what he described as the best performance of his professional career as he scooped the MVP prize having scored 26 points in the game, in 31 minutes on court for the Worcester side.
Despite the billing of Worcester as the “home” side, the Glasgow support was second to none at the Emirates, and from the outset the heat was on Paul James’ Wolves.
It may have even helped influence the first half performance from Sterling Davis’ men, as a strong presence in the paint and fast transitioning put Rocks on an 8-0 run midway through the first period. The Rocks’ lead extended further, but it wasn’t until the antics of Gareth Murray with his buzzer-beater three that really got the crowd on their feet to give Glasgow a ten-point lead 15-25.
James needed to change something, and the Wolves began driving inside with more pace and power to combat the brick wall put up by the Rocks. Kai Williams brought the game to within two with 3:43 left in the half, but Murray stepped up once more to deliver from beyond the perimeter.
Will Creekmore had a chance late in the second quarter to bring the score again to within just one possession, but missed both shots from the free throw line – and Murray sent the Scottish fans into a frenzy with another buzzer-beater, but just inside the arc, to go in to the break still in command 38-44.
Again, both sides had to find their rhythm after the restart, but the momentum shift came as Glasgow racked up the fouls – and as MVP Williams got hot.
It gave a glimmer of hope to the side from south of the border, which was jumped on by the MVP and Creekmore to push Wolves ahead 58-55, and leave the Rocks clamouring for just 11 points during the third quarter.
However, the recipient of BBL Trophy was to ultimately be decided in the final period, after both teams trading blows, Wolves stormed to an 11-2 run, rounded off by a Jamal Williams’ three.
The Rocks tried desperately to hang on close to the end, bringing the game back to within three, but as the fouls tallied up once more, it was closed out from the free-throw line for the Wolves, 83-76.
Coach James, who also led the University of Worcester’s men’s basketball side to their fourth BUCS title midweek, admitted that his team were not playing their usual game in the first two periods: “The first half we were passive, defensively, we weren’t playing to our strengths, which is getting the ball inside and seeing what happens from there so you saw us in the second half we were a lot more aggressive both ends of the floor, started to attack the basket more, and our inside-outside play came together.
“I’m really proud of the guys – they stuck together and really wanted it , but we were only going to win it as a team, so thank goodness we came together in time to do that,” the victorious coach went on to say.
Sterling Davis, though defeated, felt his players started well, but just could not make it count when it mattered most: “Congratulations to Worcester – Coach James and the players. It was a tough for us, our guys came out with a high intensity level to start the game, but we knew what kind of game it would be against them.
“We controlled them with rebounds in the first half, but how it finished off – we lacked somewhat on it. I thought we did a decent job defensively for most part of the game, but when it came down to when the stops needing to be made later down the stretch, that’s what I think it boiled down to.”
Worcester Wolves: J.Williams – 26 points, 3 rebounds, 3 blocks; Creekmore – 22 points, 15 rebounds.
Glasgow Rocks: Murray – 21 points, 3 assists; Urli – 11 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists.