BASKETBALL: Thunder lose at Plymouth

THUNDER'S loose-cannon potential late season is now recognised around the BBL. They were tipped to topple Plymouth on Saturday, but lost for the second time in their three trips there.

However, Leicester this Saturday could be an away win on the coupon.

It may be too late for Thunder's play-off hopes, though, in their maiden BBL season, which now look to be only mathematical with five games left. But five wins are possible, realistically three or four '“ the first this Saturday.

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Fourth-placed Riders just lost 82-63 away to a Sheffield Sharks team in ninth. The exciting Thunder v Leicester match in February was decided by the runaway rebounding and scoring of Phil Missere (26 and 16) and Brad Wierzbicki's steady 19 points.

Both are now among three Riders not on horses but crutches. Ex-Thunder forward Rod Wellington (knee) has been out for eight weeks, Wierzbicki (ankle) will be sidelined for another two, and Missere has had a knee operation.

On Thursday, Splash FM Radio named Thunder their Sporting Team of the Year. Awarded at the Dome Cinema, the title recognised their bringing to the town the highest level of competition in their sport, the taking of basketball into schools by their players, and the work by their volunteers on BBL match days and with their successful National Junior League teams.

At Plymouth, Thunder's poor shooting probably lost the game. They missed six more free throws than Plymouth from the same quota (27).

Their bench were outscored 28-9 and one of Thunder's starters, Daniel Midgley, made none of his five shots. He, Jonathan Woods and Ryan Patton each had two free throws and uncharacteristically netted none.

Ivanovskis, less untypically, got to the line for 15 but sank just seven.

And of Thunder's three-point potential, Bargeman made only one of seven and Patton, the league's new Downtown Champion, two of eight. Had Bargeman established his connection he would have had another stellar game. He still claimed 23 points, a week after his match-winning 32 against Scottish Rocks helped gain his second BBL Team of The Week inclusion.

Up 12-4 but down by 12 at half-time, Thunder were led back to 59-61 by Ivanovskis. But in the middle of the final quarter they were decisively held scoreless for five minutes.

PLYMOUTH 90: Lasker 20, Moore 18 (10 rb), Robinson 12, Noel 12, Gall 10, Martin 8, Beasley 8. DNP: Marriott, Burchell.

THUNDER 76: Ivanovskis 25 (16 rb), Bargeman 23 (3 ass), Woods 13 (8 rb), Wardrope 7 (2-2 x 3), Patton 6, Hildreth 2, Midgley 0 (5 rb), Mbye 0 (back after illness, played 9 min). DNP: Berry.

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