BASKETBALL: Titmuss delighted to reach play-offs

WORTHING Thunder reached the BBL play-offs at the weekend with a 97-95 win over Sheffield Sharks on Saturday and 108-99 victory at Plymouth Raiders on Sunday.

Thunder now travel to champions Newcastle Eagles in the quarter-finals on Friday (7.30pm) and Thunder coach Dave Titmuss said: "Sunday was a fantastic night. One of those when you know why you coach.

"On the weekend, we played a Sheffield team with a shot at the title who certainly didn't want to drop the game against us. Then it was Plymouth away on Sunday and the Pavilions arena was a sea of emotion.

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"The place was absolutely packed for Gary Stronach. I gave him a card and a gift but he was very professional and said he realised, on such an occasion for him, how important the game was for us.

"We heard Worcester had just scraped past Guildford and so we'd have to win again. There was lots stacked up against us. Plymouth played really well but in the end we'd showed that we could do again what we did at Guildford in overtime. To take it into overtime from the point we were at (nine points down with two minutes left] was fantastic. This win is among my career top 10.

"Going into the last four minutes of regulation time, I knew we needed the size, and that we wanted Reggie (Bratton] on court, not Evaldas (Zabas]. At the time-out I could see in the players' eyes they were struggling and I had to talk them up and remind them what we were capable of.

"But once we were into overtime and had the momentum, it was over to cold business. We ran a combination defence and were magnificent. We matched up really well and went 11-0, and everybody on the floor scored.

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"Sherrad (Prezzie-Blue] played really well all game and especially as he was in foul trouble. He's grown in stature at this level. Ville (Makalainen] had a great game against Andrew Lasker who only got going at a time when Ville wasn't marking him.

"And Reggie had a tremendous offensive match, he shot just pure, but he was also solid defensively, where (arguably decisively] he marked Allister Gall.

"Reggie took a lot of damage from their defending and didn't get the referees' calls but he stuck at it. In the clutch he was great. Coming back from nine down we had to do something defensively. And we created the chances where Reggie hit two back-to-back three-pointers in 20 seconds. The first came from his own steal and the second from our trap defence where, again, he came out of it with the ball.

"In terms of our goals this season it was a terrific weekend. We wanted to be the most improved franchise in the league and our owner Frank Gainsbury had said he wanted us to reach the play-offs. We've achieved that.

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"Now we've got to represent ourselves at Newcastle better than we did last time (lost 113-70 in March], and I've no doubt that we will.

"Andrew Sullivan has made a big difference for them. I think they've won all 19 matches since he came in. He's played in the European Final, he's a phenomenal athlete and he's such a physical presence he seems able to guard three players at once. He makes them deeper by more than one player, I feel.

"But we'll be travelling up there differently this time, we're stopping overnight on the way, and there's a determination to do the upset.

"We've shown these last four games what we can do, against three teams above us, and away '” and at Plymouth '” to the only one below.

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"We've shown this season that, even on a small budget, Worthing's a BBL club now. It signals that '” whatever happens tomorrow."


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