Creekmore strengthens Wolves’ will to win

Creekmore joining the Wolfpack for 2013-14

Creekmore joining the Wolfpack for 2013-14

Worcester Wolves have confirmed the signing of American centre Will Creekmore and their new recruit is looking forward to a new challenge.

“I’m extremely excited about playing with the Wolves this season. The BBL is a competitive league in a great country and I’m excited to help the team compete for a title,” Creekmore said.

The 24 year-old becomes head-coach Paul James‘ 4th new signing and is delighted to have a chance to shine with Worcester.

He said: “The BBL is an up and coming league and I think that it’s well on its way to being one of the top leagues in Europe.

“The chance to be a key contributor on a team that has the pieces to play at a very high level was really attractive to me and I think that Coach James and I are definitely on the same page about doing what it takes to win.”

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Owumi reflects on first season with Worcester

Alex Owumi has agreed to extend his spell in the BBL after his return to Worcester Wolves was announced for the 2013-14 season.

The news will provide an early boost for Paul James and Wolves fans alike after seeing Owumi light up the league in his first season in the BBL. The 29 year-old finished the season as the 2nd highest points scorer in the league with 688 at an average of 19.7 points per game. Continue reading

Leicester and Sheffield set Trophy Final clash

Leicester Riders will take on the Sheffield Sharks in the BBL Trophy Final next Saturday after contrasting semi-final victories.

Rob Paternostro’s men went to Worcester on Friday night and came with an 82-73 lead to take into the second leg. Zaire Taylor led the way with a 29 point haul that was matched by Wolves’ Alex Owumi, who also provided six assists. 24 hours later, Leicester saw their lead wiped out at one stage before falling to a 68-66 defeat which was enough to ensure their place in next week’s final courtesy of a 148-141 aggregate success.

The Riders looked in control during the second period as they built a 12 point lead on the night before the visiting Wolves closed the half with the final eight points to trail by just four at 34-30. The momentum swung when play resumed and Owumi capped a 10-0 run with a three to make it 42-36 to Worcester midway through the third. Leicester recovered to regain the lead but triples in the final minute from Sherrad Prezzie-Blue and Arnas Kazlauskas made it 48-45 in favour of Paul James’ side at the end of the third to trail by six overall.

Prezzie-Blue then scored nine points in the final quarter to put the visitors up by ten as they took the overall lead in the tie for the first time. Owumi maintained the gap with a basket to make it 63-53 with just under five minutes remaining before the Riders stepped up their defensive efforts and forced their opponents into a two-minute baron spell. Leicester regained overall control but were still trailing by six when Taylor nailed a pivotal 3-pointer with 1:32 left.

The wind was taken out of the Worcester sails and Taylor then split his free throw attempts to close out the game with the Wolves winning 68-66 but falling to a seven point defeat across the two games. Owumi top scored with another 29 point haul but only converted 50% from the free throw line as Worcester collectively missed ELEVEN which proved costly. Taylor led the way for the Riders with 16 points as they fell to their first home loss of the season despite reaching their first Trophy final since 2006.

Check-out the highlights of the semi-final two legs: (OfficialBBL)

Sheffield had already built a 14 point advantage (74-60) in the first leg in Cheshire before finishing the job on their home floor with a 102-74 win on Friday. Demetrius Jemison, Olu Babalola and BJ Holmes each had 16 points for the hosts while Micah Williams had 15 points on 5-8 3PT shooting. The Sharks progress to their first Trophy final since 1998 when they beat London Towers 82-79 with John Amaechi leading the way with an incredible 40 points and 16 rebounds.

The task facing the Phoenix increased in difficulty due to the absences of Chez Marks and Jerome Gumbs. Sheffield capitalised on their depleted opponents and a 14-0 spell midway through the second helped them to a commanding 49-29 advantage. Cheshire battled back in the third but the damage had already been done and the Sharks powered on in the fourth, outscoring the visitors 32-22 on their way to a 176-134 victory on aggregate.

The final will take place next Saturday at the Emirates Arena with the Riders looking to follow up their Cup Final success with another trophy while the Sharks go in search of a first piece of silverware since winning the Cup in successive years in 2010-11.

February Statistical Review in the BBL

35 games played. 16 victories on the road. 2 unbeaten teams. Two 40 point hauls. A double-OT thriller and a BBL Trophy semi-final.

The Molten BBL Coach of the Month award was given to Paul James after guiding his Worcester Wolves side to 5th in the league after six wins from six in FebruaryWorcester have boosted their top four hopes with five straight wins in the league and also progressed to the last four of the BBL Trophy. The 94-88 victory in Newcastle was their stand-out win but the Wolves have also completed double-duty for the last two weekends in which a victory was achieved after two additional periods against the London Lions. Alex Owumi (16p/10r/8a) and Carlos Fernandez (14p/10r/7a) both came close to achieving the rare feat in the BBL of a triple-double.

Rob Paternostro came close to winning the award for the second month running as the Leicester Riders also went 6-0 in February to maintain their place at the top of the standings. The Riders set up a semi-final clash with Worcester after going to Guildford to beat Surrey Heat 82-66. The league leaders’ defence continues to make a difference and Leicester managed to hold their opponents to an average of 60 points a game during the month and winning by 14.1 points on average.

At the other end of the spectrum, Surrey are in a poor run of form having slipped to sixth place in the league after such a bright start with Creon Raftopoulos‘ men losing all four league games this month. Mersey Tigers also suffered defeat in every league game in February as their quest for a first victory drags on. Glasgow had enjoyed a five game winning streak before falling to a 76-72 defeat at home to Leicester but are still level on points with Plymouth. The play-off race continues with London, Sheffield, Manchester, Cheshire and Durham all battling it out for the seventh and eighth spots. Phoenix and the Wildcats both went 1-5 for February while the Lions picked up 8 points from seven games, the Giants won two from five and Sheffield maintained 8th place with a 2-1 record for the month whilst opening up a 14 point lead in their Trophy semi-final against Cheshire.

Newcastle Eagles’ Kareem Maddox claimed the Molten BBL Player of the Month for the second time after a dominant February, averaging 21.6 points per game along with 13 rebounds per game. The BBL rookie tied his season-high points tally with 29 against the Cheshire Phoenix and ended the month with a monster double-double of 26 points and 20 rebounds whilst adding four assists, three steals and four blocks to an incredible stat-line. Maddox is having a stellar season with the Eagles and the American currently averages 15.8ppg (20th) and 10.2rpg (2nd) but is yet to score from beyond the arc this season.

Charles Smith ran his team-mate close with an impressive month averaging 32.2 ppg in four games with a total of 128 points. The league veteran had a BBL season-high 49 points against Durham at the beginning of the month on 8-10 shooting from downtown whilst collecting 16 boards to complete a memorable performance. Smith went 100% from the free throw line in the four games and has now gone 28/28 from the foul line over his last 13 games. The Eagles‘ forward failed to connect from beyond the arc against Plymouth (0-3) but managed to net a total of 19 with a 52% success rate. Most recently, Smith carried Newcastle to a win in Surrey with a 33 point haul and 10 rebounds. Joe Chapman dished out 10+ assists in three games over January/February and leads the league in that category with an average of 7.6.

Michael Ojo was the other player in February to have a 40 point game in his outing against Cheshire and followed that outstanding performance with 61 points in his next two games against Glasgow and Surrey on his way to averaging 29.2 points per game during the month. The Raiders‘ guard also nailed all 27 of his free throw attempts and has now made 42 of his last 43 from the charity stripe. Chez Marks has dropped to second in the league scoring charts but still had an impressive month scoring 31 points on two occasions including helping the ‘Nix to a vital win against the defending champions in Newcastle.

Sunday’s action in the BBL

RIDERS GROUND OUT WIN IN GLASGOW AS NEWCASTLE KEEP UP THE PRESSURE & LIONS AND WOLVES DO DOUBLE DUTY FOR THE WEEKEND

Sunday 24th February

Leicester Riders recovered from a slow start to defeat Glasgow 76-72 on the road to stay top of the league standings while Newcastle Eagles enjoyed a 90-78 success in Guildford over the Surrey Heat (full report to follow).

Pavol Losonsky led the Riders‘ charge with 22 points, eight rebounds and four assists as Leicester made it EIGHT straight victories whilst ending the winning run of the Rocks. Sterling Davis’ men led 24-15 at the end of the opening quarter but succumbed to the impressive defence of the visitors and Glasgow now drop back to fifth in the table.

The teams were tied at 11 after a sluggish start before Glasgow took control with an 11-2 close over the final three minutes to lead by nine. Gareth Murray sparked a 7-2 burst for the home side with five points in quick succession and the advantage had peaked at THIRTEEN points. However, this time it was the visitors’ turn to put together a run at the end of the quarter as an 11-3 spell helped cut the gap to 41-36 at the break.

When play resumed, the Rocks re-established their double digit lead but were then forced into a baron spell for nearly four minutes as the Riders reduced their arrears to a single point as Zaire Taylor capped a 9-0 run with a triple. Leicester finally took the lead- for the first time since mid-way through the first- on the buzzer as they turned defence into defence with a block from Drew Sullivan at one end transpired into an Anthony Rowe basket at the other.

EJ Harrison completed a three point play early with the first score in the fourth to restore the Rocks‘ advantage but that was to be their last lead of the contest as an 8-2 response from the Riders put them up by six. Spurred on by the Emirates crowd, Glasgow pulled themselves to within a point but crucially missed their final SEVEN shots from the field as Leicester could afford three spurned free throw attempts before Losonsky nailed two successfully to clinch an ELEVENTH straight win in all competitions.

STAT: Leicester have now won their last three league games in Glasgow.

Worcester Wolves capitalised on Surrey‘s loss to leapfrog the Heat in the table and keep alive their top four chances after beating Durham 83-79 on the road. The visitors gained the advantage with a strong spell after the half-time interval before holding off a final quarter fightback from the Wildcats. Alex Owumi led all scorers with 24 points while Mike Baldarelli had 23 for Durham and Andrew Keister contributed a 22p-14r double-double.

STAT: Carlos Fernandez came close to a triple-double with 14 points, 10 rebounds and SEVEN assists in 40 minutes.

London Lions also recorded their second win of the weekend after an 81-64 triumph at home to play-off rivals Manchester. The tip was delayed by 90 minutes as the Giants arrived late due to traffic. The Lions weren’t affected by the wait as they raced into an early 29-17 lead and never looked back. Adrien Sturt had a season-high 31 point haul for the hosts while the visiting Giants were led by a 24p-12r double-double from Ben Eaves, who also fired in four 3-pointers.

In the BBL Trophy, Sheffield opened up a 14 point advantage with a 74-60 victory in Cheshire to take into the second leg of their semi-final clash. A domiant 26-12 third quarter from the Sharks proved the difference as they took a step closer to a first major final since 2011. Mike Tuck was in inspired form for his side and led from the front with a huge 16p-19r double-double while Micah Williams added 16 points to celebrate his birthday with a win.

The finalists will become clear next week as the Sharks and Phoenix meet in the second leg while Leicester and Worcester do battle in successive nights in their semi-final. Mersey look for a first win as they entertain Newcastle while on Sunday, Surrey aim to return to winning ways when they host Cheshire and Glasgow play host to the Wildcats.