DURHAM Wildcats go into another weekend doubleheader with the post-season play-offs very much in their sights.
They host Worcester Wolves on Sunday after travelling to Plymouth Raiders, with their 8-16 record placing them in tenth spot, while Wolves are chasing a top-four finish and face Surrey Heat tonight in sixth place with 13 wins from 22 games.
Sunday’s game will be the head-to-head decider between the two sides, though it is unlikely they will finish the season tied, and the visiting side has been successful in both previous games.
Wildcats shocked the Wolves with an 82-76 victory on the opening weekend of the season but Paul James’ Wolves gained revenge with a 98-91 win when they met in the North-East a month ago.
Wildcats’ coach Dave Elderkin knows his team needs an improved performance if they are to gain revenge for that win.
“We played OK against Worcester for 35 minutes; we need to make that 40 this Sunday with the series headto- head at stake,” he said.
“Alex Owumi has impressed in both games against us and Arnas Kazlausas and Arturas Masiulis provide a physical presence around the basket.
“Kai Williams seems to be settling in but we must assume Sherrad Prezzie-Blue has recovered from the knee injury he picked up at Newton Aycliffe.”
Wolves’ coach Paul James is expecting a tough game in the North-East, saying: “Durham are very competitive on their own floor and so this is going to be another test of character for us. They move the ball exceptionally well and play unselfish, smart basketball.
“They always give you a good game so we really need to be ready.
“Ralph Bucci and Mike Baldarelli have been very solid this season for Durham.
When we played them last time, we started slowly but found our range in the second half and tightened up our defence, which saw us through.”
Wildcats saw their play-off hopes hit with a loss against in-form Glasgow Rocks last week and Elderkin suffered double disappointment as Keith Page suffered a knee injury late in the game and could be sidelined for two weeks.
That means Sam Johnson will step into the starting line-up and Paul Elderkin, who celebrated his 26th birthday on the day of the match, could return after a two-month lay-off.