BASKETBALL: Thunder's Cricelli chosen for All Star Game

SAMUEL Cricelli will be the only Worthing Thunder player on show at the BBL All Star Game at Birmingham NIA on Saturday.

The Naples-born, Oxford-raised forward will play for Great Britain against the Rest of the World line-up.

The 6ft 7in Brighton-based standout was 13th in BBL rebounding and led those players who just fell short of seven a game. He averaged 11 points a game.

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Opposing him would have been a Thunder team-mate, either guard-forward Reggie Bratton, the second-top BBL scorer with 25 points per game, or centre Kadiri Richard, comfortably first in shot blocking with 2.2 per game and fourth in rebounding with nearly nine. Both Americans were nominated but both have returned home.

BBL Trophy holders and league championship-retaining Newcastle Eagles astonishingly lost their play-offs crown at the weekend '“ just days after hammering out Thunder in the quarter-finals. Everton Tigers, the only team unbeaten by Worthing this season, tore them up 190-158 on aggregate with identical 95-79 wins at home on Friday and away on Saturday.

Eagles' three-point shooting, which destroyed Worthing, failed in the second leg with only seven of 29 attempts. Everton's James Jones, Kevin Bell and Trey Moore (an Eagle and the BBL MVP last season, who scored 33 points in the first leg) converted for the Tigers. Olu Babalola, whose size had troubled Worthing, led Tigers with 24 points.

Everton put out double cup finalists Cheshire Jets in the quarters and have now won seven straight. In the final, they will meet Glasgow Rocks who came past BBL Cup winners Sheffield Sharks 165-157, having lost away 90-93 on Friday. They won at Kelvin Hall 75-64 on Sunday, inspired by point-guard Rob Yanders' 28 points.

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Two ex-Worthing players figured: Sharks' own point-guard Ryan Patton, recently stricken by injury affecting his shooting, nailed none of nine. For Rocks, starting forward Steve Parillon played solidly.

On Thunder's 102-74 knock-out by Eagles, head coach Dave Titmuss commented: "We didn't play well with what we'd set up to do. We needed to reach the fourth quarter in a competitive situation but weren't able to do that. We had a game plan and didn't execute. We couldn't guard Newcastle man-to-man or in the zone.

"We missed eight makeable lay-ups, five in the first quarter, three by Janis (Ivanovskis]. But the biggest thing was we never gave up. It showed tremendous application to what we were trying to do. It stems from the attitude of the squad: but our performance didn't happen.

"But I'm not surprised Everton beat Newcastle. They've now got their injured players back."

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NIA details: Doors at 2.30pm, All-Star Game at 3.30pm, Final at 6pm. Tickets: courtside 50 with benefits, lower tier 21 (child 16), upper tier 16 (11).


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