The Surrey Scorchers made it a home opener to remember with a nail-biting win over Worcester Wolves, 84-80 in the Surrey Sports Park.
Head Coach Creon Raftopolous was back on the bench for the Surrey Scorchers, to the delight of the Scorchers faithful, his assistant coaches and his players. Tayo Ogedengbe was glad to be home and have his coach on the sideline “Makes a big difference. We weren’t lost, but, we were without our coach, it wasn’t all together but now he’s back we’re pretty certain of the direction we’re headed.”
The Wolves got the first points on the board but it was the hosts who would have the first big run of the game early in the first quarter, with big man Gerald Robinson getting amongst the buckets early on his way to 22 points. “I tried to put a lot of pressure on the defence and try and pick my spots. I was looking to have a good statement game and I’m glad I got to do that today.”
Robinson’s early scoring was kept in check by Worcester’s equally impressive 6’5” forward George Beamon who would finish with 27 points in the loss. Despite a good early start from the Wolves their points dried up in the end of the first quarter whilst the introduction of Daryl Palmer for the Scorchers kicked their game up a gear. Palmer had a capacity crowd on their feet three times in his opening shift thanks to two incredible alley-oop dunks assisted by Tony Hicks and Caylin Raftopoulos and a massive block. Palmer loves helping his side out with the alley-oop, “If Y’all ever in trouble just throw it up and I’ll find a way to get it down.”
Daryl Palmer hits the runway hard and takes off for @surreyscorchers for a crushing Alley-Oop. Showtime Sunday. #BritishBasketball pic.twitter.com/aELnL63E1J
— BBL (@BBLofficial) October 15, 2017
The second period of play started much better for the visitors going on a 9-0 run to force the Creon Raftopolous on the Scorchers bench to call a timeout to stop the bleeding. From the timeout, the hosts got back into their rhythm and a monster two-handed slam dunk from Ogedengbe forced the Wolves bench to call their own timeout. The timeout did very little to slow the scoring as the Surrey outfit went on a 10-4 run to end the half, with the bulk of Worcester’s scoring coming from Beamon and Brandon Parrish.
The keys for Surrey was their ball movement and their high tempo offence, when they worked these elements in tandem they were unstoppable, but the same was equally true for Worcester. Unfortunately for the Wolves, they were not able to get it clicking in quite the same way and found themselves down 48-33 at the half.
Worcester, like they were at the start of quarters one and two were quickly amongst the points as the second half tipped off forcing a timeout halfway through the period as they’d slashed an impressive 15 point lead to just six points. The Wolves, through shooting mainly from Beamon but with good scoring also from Trayvon Palmer and Parrish, played with a lot more composure whilst the Scorchers played streaky basketball, trying to make one pass too many and it cost them. Discipline became an issue in the quarter as the Scorchers gave up 6 fouls including a technical to Ogedengbe a stone cold three-pointer from Tony Hicks right in the face of his defender and a Robinson three at the buzzer gave the home side a 6 point cushion heading into the final term.
The final ten minutes of basketball flew by as the sides tried to outscore each other. Every time the Scorchers looked like they were about to make the game safe, the Wolves were there with a timely bucket. Whenever the visitors looked like getting too close the Scorchers would score. But with little over two minutes to go, Brandon Parrish, drained a three-pointer to tie the game at 77 and had the home fans, players and management having flashbacks to the events in Cheshire just 7 days previous. Alex Owumi said after the game “it was like deja vu, when that guy hit that three like, not this again!”
Alex Owumi made sure it wouldn’t be that way again with a three-pointer to make it 80-77 followed by two made free throws to make it a 4 point lead 82-78. Beamon tried his hardest to get his side back level scoring a two-pointer to make it 82-80, but he also made a mental mistake that proved costly. Beamon, an American, tried to call a live ball timeout, something that isn’t possible in FIBA basketball which led to a turnover. Tony Hicks settled the game with a two-pointer in the dying moments to give the Scorchers all 4 points from the weekend and to move their record to 3-2.
Glad to be back and glad of the win Head Coach Creon Raftopoulos said “ecstatic for the guys. The fact we could grind out the win against a really good Worcester team, it gets us into the win columns in terms of our league record, so really happy.” “The best part [of today’s game] is that we have different guys going in at different times. All 9 guys made a contribution.”
Ogedengbe was pleased with the win. “Worcester is always one of the teams we know we have to beat. Today we shared the ball, a lot of guys were in double figures, we’ve tried to work on sharing the ball and keeping our defence strong.”
The Wolves coach questioned his team’s mindset, “This is always a very tough place to come and play. We dug ourselves a hole in the first, yes we got back into it but when it came down to the stretch the last minute or so when we needed to execute we didn’t do what we needed to do so we got what we deserved.” The highlights for James was the way they fought back and showed defensive pride, especially in the second half. “The way we fought back I thought we did that really.”
Beamon, who top scored with 27 points and was pivotal in the Wolves’ fightback was reflective post game. “I always felt like I could play better but its a team effort. I happened to score the ball well today but only because guys found me, we got great guards and big men finding me the ball in transition. We gotta get it together defensively and that’ll really make us gel and we’ll be able to take off once that happens.”