AFTER successfully holding their hosts scoreless for the first five minutes of the game, Worcester Wolves suffered a breakdown in the last 10 minutes of play to lose 87-65 at Plymouth Raiders in the British Basketball League.
Six points from Wolves’ seven-foot centre Arturas Masiulis, accompanied by triples from forwards Stan Ocitti and Arnas Kazlauskas, gave the visitors a healthy 12-0 opening but when Raiders brought their own seven-footer Liam Potter onto the court, they answered back with a 10-2 run of their own.
With a couple of minutes remaining in the first quarter there was another new entrant to the court, the long-awaited seasonal debut of Wolves’ point guard Sherrad Prezzie-Blue.
Having only just arrived in the country it can perhaps be excused that he then missed both free-throws he was awarded following a foul by Plymouth’s Michael Ojo.
A basket from Raiders’ Matt Schneck began the second period, taking the scores to 18-12 to Wolves, and a couple of scores from Masiulis sandwiched another from Schneck, putting matters at 22-14 with three minutes gone.
Prezzie-Blue’s first assist of the season then led to an Ocitti triple and a moment later his first rebound of the year preceded a powerful dunk from Ocitti. This left Wolves leading 27-16 mid-way through the period.
It was at just over a minute to go until half-time when Prezzie-Blue hit the first shot of what Worcester fans hope will be many, taking his team to 34-27.
Within three minutes of the second-half, Plymouth had levelled at 39-39. and shortly afterwards the Raiders took the lead for the first time following a three-pointer from American forward Javarris Barnett.
A nip-and-tuck contest ensued for the rest of a third quarter that closed at 56-55 in favour of Plymouth, after an Ojo score from distance.
Ojo added to his points tally as the last period began and quickly saw his team-mate, Irishman Colin O’Reilly, increase the Raiders’ lead.
Worcester coach Paul James looked to calm matters with a time-out but could do nothing to prevent a 13-7 run for the Raiders before he was forced to again call a halt to proceedings.
At 74-62, with four minutes remaining, there was still a chance for the visitors to come back.
However, a solitary basket from Masiulis was the only reply to a further onslaught from Plymouth on the way to a disappointing Wolves’ defeat.
Masiulis was the top-scorer for the Wolves with 18 points, followed by Ocitti with 16.
Wolves will now await the visit of reigning BBL champions, Newcastle Eagles, to the University of Worcester on Saturday (7pm).