DURHAM WILDCATS are aiming to make it two wins on the bounce when they return to British Basketball League action tonight - but they will have their work cut out for them at league leaders Worcester Wolves.
Wildcats produced a strong second half performance to beat Surrey United 79-69 and strengthen their play-off hopes last weekend, but they go from facing the BBL’s rock bottom team to the division’s high-fliers in the space of five days.
Lee Davie, Durham’s coach, hopes his side can make it as difficult as possible for the leaders. “Worcester are a well-balanced team as they have the inside threats of Andreas Schreiber and Will Creekmore with the outside threats of Zaire Taylor, Alex Owumi, and the new addition of Kai Williams,” he said.
"We need to make their offensive looks as difficult as possible and fight and scrap for everything we can."
Worcester have a 14-3 record in the BBL and lead the division by two points from Leicester Riders, while Durham have shrugged off a mid-season wobble and sit in ninth with a 6-9 record, with 12 points from their 15 games, keeping the hopes of a post-season qualification very much alive.
And Wolves are well aware of the North-Easterners’ threats. Paul James, Worcester coach, said: "Durham have done a good job this season and have improved as a team.
“They are a very unselfish team and have a bunch of players who can all score. They move the ball really well and run the floor well.
“We will need to slow them down and have our transition to defence working very well."
On Sunday, Wildcats ended their losing streak against Surrey, despite trailing at half-time.
Wildcats were led by 25 points from Danny Huffor while Brandon McGill's 20 points weren't enough to help his team to a first victory of the season.
There was hardly anything to choose between the teams in the first quarter but it was Surrey who edged ahead with a 4-0 run to make it 19-16 after 10 minutes.
Ceslovas Kucinskas was the main offensive threat for United with 11 points in the quarter.
Things got even better for United in the second quarter after Wildcats had tied the match at 21-21 through Huffor's three.
A 17-6 run took the score to 38-27 and although Durham ended the half with the final three points the United lead was still 38-30.
The game turned around in the third quarter with the Wildcats finally getting on top. After trimming the gap back to 38-36 Durham allowed the deficit to grow to 44-36 before a 20-5 run by the visitors made it 56-49.
However, a two from Surrey's McGill to end the period made it a five point game at 56-51. The deficit was down to four (63-59) with just under six minutes to play but Wildcats pulled away to clinch their sixth win of the Championship season.
At the halfway point of the season, Davie is pleased with the progress made by Durham since he replaced Dave Elderkin in the summer.
“It’s been a brilliant process,” said Davie.
“Everyone is fully on board and we all have the same high aspirations. I feel like the last few games we have lost sight a little bit but everyone is focused on regaining our momentum and moving forward. Everyone in the team is really excited about the prospect of what we can achieve and I’m really enjoying being a part of it.”