WORCESTER Wolves produced a Christmas cracker of a performance in delivering the first defeat of the British Basketball League season to table-topping London Lions last night.

A packed University of Worcester Arena erupted as Wolves took the festive spoils 80-78 after a back-and-forth thriller that was only decided on the final play of the evening.

London’s Great Britain point guard Justin Robinson floated in a desperation three-pointer to tie the sides at 78-78 with just 12 seconds remaining.

Worcester’s Kofi Josephs teased defenders with the possibility of a long-range reply before instead firing a bullet pass to Amir Williams who sank the higher-percentage shot with no time left on the game-clock, prompting mass celebrations.

Williams was concise in his description of the game-winning play, saying: “Kofi found me under the basket and I did what I’m expected to.

"I’m enjoying my time here and will do whatever is needed of me to help bring success to the city.”

The competitive nature of the match was apparent from the outset.

Williams set up camp close to the basket for a series of scores while his Lions counterparts Ali Tew and Brandon Peel gained similar success at the opposite end in an even 20-20 first period.

Julius Van Sauers joined the big man party with six points in a two-minute spell as the sides traded punches for a 38-38 deadlock.

But Peel connected while falling to the floor to nudge the visitors’ noses in front as the half-time buzzer sounded.

Wolves looked to be a team that was wilting after the break.

A slowdown in offensive production was accompanied by fragility in defence.

Tew stepped around Williams as he slipped on the floor to bring up a 62-55 cushion entering the last quarter.

When that lead had extended to 72-61 at six minutes remaining Worcester head coach Matt Newby was forced to call for a steadying time-out.

It was a side transformed that re-emerged onto the court.

Williams got back into his groove around both hoops while his namesake Jordan also stood firm to haul back the deficit.

By two minutes to go a pair of Cortez Edwards free throws had switched control to Wolves at 73-72.

Edwards’ next possession ended with points and a bonus to establish daylight for his team.

However, Robinson took the air out of any premature celebrations by converting an errant pass into an unlikely three-pointer to close matters to 76-75 as a taster to the dramatic finale that was to shortly follow.

Amir Williams dominated the statistics with 31 points and 18 rebounds.

Jordan Williams continued his rehabilitation from recent injury by posting 17 points and a handy eight assists.

Newby praised the strength of his players, saying: “We had a tough night at times but we rode it out.

"To absorb and recover London’s lead shows the resilient nature of this team."

In reference to the game-deciding play at the end, Newby said: “Kofi’s a shooter and he has to keep shooting but when it really mattered he showed everyone his basketball IQ.

"He could have taken a three or a jump-shot off the dribble but instead he located Amir for a higher-chance play.

“Amir had great hands. He comes from a stellar college programme and deserves this opportunity to showcase his ability.”

Wolves are soon back into action on Sunday (5pm) when they visit Manchester Giants.

After that they will turn all their attention to the BBL Cup semi-final second leg at Leicester Riders on Friday.

A narrow 66-63 home defeat for Wolves in the first leg leaves a cup final trip to Arena Birmingham at the end of January still firmly in sight.

“The game at Leicester will be huge for this club,” added Newby.

“But for now we can’t afford to look beyond Manchester.

"Irrespective of the records of any of our opponents we have to keep our eyes fixed on what is directly in front of us.”