Captain Brendan Okoronkwo believes Worthing Thunder have the ideal chance to prove their worth as National League Division 1 title contenders this weekend.
Thunder make the trip to Hemel Storm on Saturday in a rematch of last season’s play-off final, looking to build on Sunday’s 89-78 victory over Solent Kestrels, which confirmed Worthing’s place in the National Trophy semi-finals.
Skipper Okoronkwo, part of the team that beat Hemel 67-57 to be crowned play-off winners last term, feels that with the National Trophy now out of the picture until next year, Worthing can make an early statement of intent against a strong Hemel outfit.
He said: “Hemel always put out a strong outfit each season, after their revamp adding some talented British guards in particular, they should be challenging for silverware again.
“What better way to prove we’re the best team in the league than beating a contender on their court and going 1-0.”
Saturday’s National League opener comes after Thunder finished their National Trophy group stage 2-0, finally getting a win over Solent Kestrels.
The win on Sunday also gets rid of the banana-skin tag that the Kestrels had held over Worthing since last season. En route to the play-off title, Solent were the only team that Thunder failed to register a win over.
Worthing, however, were on cruise control for the majority of their clash on Sunday, racing out to an 11-0 lead early in the first period and never looking back.
Explosive point guard Nick Lewis once again stepped up with 35 points to lead Thunder, including six three-pointers.
Okoronkwo, who added 11 points and two steals, commented: “It’s not easy to get the win against Solent.
“Slow starts in each game last season meant we couldn’t collect a win. We knew we had to get off to a good start this time and we did.
“The potential of a semi-final, them being our banana-skin team of last season and coach Josh’s (Goddard) connection to Solent, this game had an added energy considering the stage of the season we’re in.”
Have you read?