Thunder ready to blast Rockets out of contention

Skipper Brendan Okoronkwo believes a week break came at a perfect time for Worthing Thunder. Picture by Kyle Hemsley
Skipper Brendan Okoronkwo believes a week break came at a perfect time for Worthing Thunder. Picture by Kyle Hemsley

Worthing Thunder are raring for a return to National League Division 1 action this weekend.

Despite the club being keen to play, skipper Brendan Okoronkwo admitted a week-off may have come at a perfect time.

The team were due to play London Lithuanica last weekend but they pulled out of the league during pre-season.

This gave Thunder an extra week to prepare for this Saturday’s crunch league encounter against Reading Rockets.

A weekend without a game also gave players a chance to shake-off any injuries and soreness that they may have had in particular, guard Jorge Ebanks, who was recovering from a shoulder injury sustained before Christmas.

And for those reasons, along with settling in the new signing Marquis Mathis, captain Okoronkwo is thankful for the extra-time off in the schedule.

Thunder will be hoping to build some much-needed momentum after they were beaten by league leaders Team Solent Kestrels last time out.

Daniel Gayle’s team are currently third in the table and looking for a swift return to winning ways.

Okoronkwo said: “The week off was well timed. It gave us a chance to regroup and helps Marquis (Mathis) get more familiar with our systems after his recent arrival.

“Also the rest is welcomed for a few of us that were carrying injuries.

“Reading scout and prepare for every opponent in great detail and we’ve had an extra week to focus on our preparation for them, which could be key to Saturday’s outcome.”

Reading Rockets coach Manuel Peña Garcés was at Worthing Leisure Centre when Thunder narrowly lost to leaders Solent two weeks ago in front of a sell-out crowd, so is aware of the offensive threat that Thunder possesses.

However, losing to Solent was Thunder’s second straight defeat following seven consecutive wins, so beating Reading is crucial if coach Gayle’s men want to continue their bid for the Division 1 title.

The teams have played each other twice this season - once in the National Trophy and in the league - with Reading coming out victorious in both clashes.

Therefore it is vital for Thunder to claim the head-to-head on Saturday by bettering Rockets’ nine-point win that they inflicted on Worthing in the league back in October.

Gayle said: “We’ve dropped two important games so we’ve had to refocus, really take stock of what we’re trying to achieve.

“I believe it’s time for us now to get back to team basketball and focus on closing out the regular season.”

Like the game against Solent, Thunder are expecting another big crowd for Saturday’s pivotal game with advance tickets already selling fast.

Tip-off on Saturday is 7.30pm at Worthing Leisure Centre.