While to most clubs it was just another day in the BBL, for the Worcester Wolves, Sunday was a little more special as they ensured a place in this season’s play-offs with an emphatic 100-78 win at Guildford Heat.
That might not be a big deal to some people, after all the Wolves are currently in second place, but this is a club that has suffered a lot of heartache when it comes to making the post-season.
There’s been a few near misses and twice Wolves’ coach Paul James has seen his side battle all the way until the final game of the regular season, only to just miss out.
But this year the Wolves have done it with eight games to spare and although they can only hope the Eagles slip up and allow an outside chance to win the league, the chances of finishing the season in the top four are looking very good.
“It’s absolutely fantastic for the supporters and the owners who have been with this club so long,” said James’ about Wolves confirming a play-off spot. “The [Wolves] have always struggled to make the play-offs and one of the things I wanted to do when I came here was win enough games early on to make the play-offs, and then see where we can go from there.”
“These guys have been fantastic all season long,” he added. “They train hard and they play hard and that’s all I can ask from them, so I’m really delighted that we’ve made the play-offs.”
The game at Guildford, which was being recorded as this week’s Sky Sports offering, got off to a slow start, but once the Wolves took control late in the first period, it was never really in doubt as to who would win the game.
The absence of Carlos Fernandez never hurt the Wolves as Callum Jones and David Watts both stepped up. After Tommy Freeman drained a three-pointer late in the second quarter, the lead never got below 11 points the rest of the way.
Richie Gordon was in foul trouble in the first half but the Wolves didn’t suffer for it and in the fourth he made 10 of the Wolves’ opening 14 points to make sure there was no Heat comeback.
“It was very sloppy at the start,” said James of the game. “We were coming off the back of a game [Saturday against Cheshire Jets] which was very, very physical and we had leave [Worcester] early today.
“But what I liked was we were getting open shots. We weren’t making them but I knew sooner or later we’d relax and then start making them.”
He added: “It was an absolutely fantastic performance tonight.”
Currently sitting second, Wolves know that in order to finish at least second they will need to make they keep winning, which won’t be easy as five of their remaining eight games are against teams in the top five.
“We would really be satisfied with a top four position,” commented James. “At the start of the year the goal was make the play-offs in eighth, seventh or sixth, but then we had a great start.
“So we had to re-evaluate and certainly top four is a position we want to be in.”
Next up for the Wolves are the Glasgow Rocks on Saturday and although the Wolves have won the previous two meetings this season, James knows it will be difficult against the Scottish side.
“We’ve got the head-to-head on Glasgow and they’ve got to come back down to our place, but they are fit and healthy now so it’s going to be a tough game.
“They are one of the teams chasing to get in the top four and we’ve got make sure that doesn’t happen at our expense.”
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