WORCESTER Wolves competed with British Basketball League defending champions Leicester Riders for long spells but could not deny their visitors an 85-80 win.

With seven minutes remaining Wolves were still in touch at 65-63 down before Leicester demonstrated their championship credentials with an overwhelming 16-2 burst that decided the contest.

Interim Worcester coach Tony Garbelotto pulled no punches in his assessment of the defeat, saying: “Leicester play with a physicality that no other team has.

"We’re just not ready to win in those types of games yet.

“I’m disappointed because we came into this from two good weeks of practice and competed in the first half but then let ourselves down.

"I was proud when we got within two points and forced a time-out but then we let them get open shots.

“We’re not yet ready to play a complete game.

"You can’t just want to compete because the other team is winning — you have to compete from the first go.”

Six minutes into the match Wolves were 15-7 behind before Jordan Whelan’s introduction to the action sparked a revival as he followed up a strong slash to the hoop with a three-pointer.

Lester Prosper rejected a Leicester attack and opened his account, reducing the deficit to 21-19.

The second quarter began with Worcester captain Adam Thoseby slotting in a triple to push his side ahead.

Deshawn Freeman produced a sublime head fake that paved the way for a thumping slam dunk, keeping Wolves in half-time contention at 51-45 down.

The tight nature of the evening continued after the break.

Miki Servera delighted home supporters by bouncing the ball off the back of an unaware Riders defender for a cheeky layup and a hard-nosed drive from Freeman kept the pot boiling.

It would take Leicester nearly four minutes to move the scoreboard in the final quarter as Wolves swarmed in defence, forcing turnovers and shot-clock violations.

But it was then Worcester’s turn to stagnate.

Freeman had to leave the court after a double of offensive fouls, open chances were spurned and Riders stamped their authority on the evening to take the spoils.

Freeman led all scorers with 22 points supported by 16 for Servera and 12 from Prosper.

Wolves return to the University of Worcester Arena on Friday (7.30pm) when they entertain Sheffield Sharks.

“I was disappointed that we had to play Leicester on Friday,” added Garbelotto.

“Against any team other than the top three we’re ready to win.

"I honestly believe in this group — we have to go into games believing we are going to win and then act like that.”