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Wolves feast on rebounds as trophy slips through net

Glasgow Rocks' eleven-year quest for silverware will continue after an 83-76 defeat at the hands of Worcester Wolves yesterday.

Chris Johnson of the Rocks is blocked by Wolves' Stefan Djukic last night. Picture: Nick Ponty
Chris Johnson of the Rocks is blocked by Wolves' Stefan Djukic last night. Picture: Nick Ponty

Sterling Davis, the Rocks player-coach, saw his side come mighty close to an upset at the Emirates Arena in front of a largely partisan 5000-strong crowd, but the Wolves proved to be just too strong down the stretch.

Davis knows his side will have to put all that behind them now and focus solely on their fight to make the BBL play-offs. "It's going to be a challenge for us; we've been faced with challenges all year long," he said afterwards.

For the first 20 minutes of the final, it seemed as if it was going to be the Rocks' day, as they opened up a double-digit lead on the back of some strong play from Fran Urli and Great Britain internationalist Gareth Murray, who led the way with 21 points.

Murray had a strong first half, nailing buzzer-beater shots at the end of each quarter, giving Rocks a 44-38 advantage going into the break. While the Wolves improved in the third, poor free-throw shooting from Worcester meant the Rocks were able to keep their noses in front. But as the fouls mounted up for the Rocks, the Wolves were able to narrow the gap and took a 58-55 lead of their own into the last 10 minutes.

Wolves' Jamal Williams had a strong second half, earning him Most Valuable Player honours after a 26-point performance, and it was his shots down the stretch that clinched the win for Worcester, their first-ever trophy in the BBL.

"Twenty-two second-chance points to give up in a game, that really hurts you," said Davis, who felt his side gave up too many offensive rebounds to Worcester in the second half.

"I thought we did a decent job defensively for the most part but when it came to the stops needed to be made later down the stretch, they converted on them and we weren't able to get the stops. That's what it boiled down to."

Davis, who felt the game finally went against them in the fourth, added: "There were a couple of times where we just couldn't protect the basketball and we ended up with 14 turnovers for the game. Turnovers against a team like Worcester . . . they will make you pay for that and sure enough they did that tonight."

The Rocks, whose play-off bid was aided by Durham Wildcats' 99-95 defeat to Newcastle Eagles last night, will look to rebound this coming weekend when they head on the road to face Leicester Riders and Surrey United.

Games are fast running out for the Rocks and they know they cannot return from this next trip winless. "Looking at our record you can tell it's been a struggle for us," said Davis, "but we've got to be able to bounce back off of this and fight for what we have remaining in the league. We're fighting for a play-off spot and it's going to be a tough battle considering the opponents we have but we've got to take it one game at a time and hopefully and we can take out any anger on the next opponents we have."

Rocks' guard EJ Harrison believes that his side will bounce back from this defeat and will use it as motivation over the remaining games.

"We'll need to take a day to get over it," he said. "It was a tough loss and we just couldn't get it done down the stretch. That seems to be a theme of our year, but you know we've got a big weekend next week."

Before the Trophy final, Scotland Select came close to recording an upset over England Select, before narrowly losing, 84-78.

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