Worcester Wolves were unable to reward a sold-out University of Worcester Arena in their British Basketball League season-opener on Friday.
Their opponents the London Lions, one of the sides fancied for honours this season, performed efficiently to stay a handful of points in front of Wolves for most of the match, before pulling away in the late stages to a convincing 88-72 victory.
A couple of minutes into the evening Lions already led 6-2 after an impressive dunk from their imposing centre Demonte Flannigan. Trailing 11-16 with three minutes left in the initial quarter, Worcester Coach Paul James made a trio of substitutions.
Elvisi Dusha sank a three-pointer with his first touch of the ball. George Beamon debuted on the scoresheet and Trayvon Palmer swung on the rim to grab two points and a bonus free throw.
Jermel Kennedy brought spectators to their feet with a fine alley-oop success following a well-timed assist from Dusha, levelling the teams at 24-24 as the second quarter began.
But each time Wolves threatened to take a lead, London fired straight back. Moritz Lanegger dropped in two quick long-range successes as the first half ended with the visitors 46-42 ahead.
Lions still held a 67-61 advantage entering the final period. Seven points from Palmer brought matters back to 72-68 with five minutes remaining, but this was to be Wolves’ last hurrah.
A number of clashes led to Lanegger drawing loud jeers from home fans each time he touched the ball. Revelling in his pantomime villain role, he duly dished out a series of pinpoint assists that were converted by his grateful team-mates, opening considerable daylight between the teams.
Palmer led the way for Worcester with 21 points. Fellow Americans Brandon Parrish with 17 points and Beamon with 15 were the only other double-digit scorers.
A disappointed James admitted: “Unfortunately, our execution was lacking in the last part of the game, though I thought we competed well up to that point.”
Wolves are next in action on Friday 13 October when Manchester Giants visit the University of Worcester Arena.
“It’s just one game in. We’ll put today’s errors right and we’ll get better as the season progresses,” added James.
Photo credit: Razorlight Imagery