WORCESTER Wolves captain Alex Owumi was in tears after they clawed their way back to beat Glasgow Rocks 83-76 in the British Basketball League Trophy final.
The emotional Worcester captain, who lifted Wolves’ first piece of BBL silverware, says he came close to dying when caught up in the Libyan Civil War while playing for a team owned by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
“Basketball almost brought me to a place where I lost my life for the game,” he said.
“That’s what you saw with all those tears – I really just couldn’t hold them in.
“I told the players earlier, ‘I don’t want to be driving back down to Worcester on the bus without that trophy’.”
Owumi also gave special mention to American centre Will Creekmore, whose dominating inside performance ensured Rocks had enormous difficulty scoring close to the basket, at one stage going 15 minutes without a two-point basket.
“He’s probably one of the best big man players I’ve played with at professional level,” said Owumi.
“He did a great job. In the second quarter, I just looked him in the eye and said, ‘I need you – because this is what I came back here for this season’.
“He’s just a winner and we’re lucky to have him here.”
Owumi is aware the city of Worcester, which is developing a strong basketball identity, has been waiting for a first title for a long time. He said: “The city of Worcester has had a hard time – we had floods when Glasgow came to play us recently.
“There’s a lot of people who have invested emotions in this club.
“It gets better every year, the fan base gets bigger every year – this is for the city and the fans also.”
Worcester head coach Paul James said he felt his players were uncharacteristically hasty in the first-half of their first final.
“It was like they were saying ‘We think your way is wrong, coach, and we’re going to do it this way instead’,” smiled James after winning the Trophy for the second time following his triumph with Guildford in 2008.
“At half-time, I just said that the same shots we were taking after 10 seconds we could take after 20, but we could explore the inside options better first. Defensively, I thought we were great in the third and fourth quarters.”
Jamal Williams, whose 26 points and work-rate off the bench landed him man-of-the-match honours, said he felt comfortable despite a shaky start.
“I started with an airball (a shot attempt that misses the rim completely) – but it was nice to get a finish like that,” he said.
“My team-mates and the coach had confidence in me and kept telling me to shoot the ball. It’s nice knowing that everyone trusts you with the ball.”