City of Birmingham Rockets’ Men’s First Team recorded a dramatic 83-79 win at Worcester Wolves on Friday evening to move to within just one win of clinching the league title.
Worcester had a point to prove after falling to Rockets on all three of our previous meetings as NBL sides – a run dating back to our cup meeting in September 2021.
That run looked destined to continue after Rockets opened up an 11-2 lead in the opening minute – leaving a shellshocked Wolves side with work to do to get back into the contest.
Lucas McGregor led the Wolves fightback with a 22-point performance for the hosts, who rallied back to tie things up at 14-14 on the back of a tough few minutes for Coach Gayle’s Rockets.
Rockets reacted well to this early setback, taking control of the game once again to pull away to a 21-17 lead by the end of the quarter.
Luke Okosieme checked in to the game midway through the second with the scores level at 23 each and quickly made his presence felt with a pair of dunks and some strong midrange shooting opening up a six-point Rockets lead.
Wolves fought back once again but a pair of Reiss Fauire-Daley free throws just before the end of the quarter to saw us go into the break with a three-point advantage – the scores set at 42-39 to Rockets.
Kayne King, who had been instrumental for Rockets in recent weeks, was forced to sit out of much of the second half through injury – a concerning turn of events considering Worcester’s relentless pressure as they looked to once again tip the scales in their favour.
Indeed, our hosts took their biggest lead of the night not long after this setback; with a strong start to the second half seeing them up five by the midway point of the third.
Jordan Dawes and Martyn Gayle led the Rockets fightback towards the end of the quarter, with Gayle hitting a crucial three late in the quarter to cut Worcester’s led to just one going into the final period of play.
Sam Toluwase came out and set the tone for the final quarter in the opening seconds, throwing down a dunk to silence the nervy home crowd and handing Rockets the lead.
Worcester were determined to be the side to end Rockets’ unbeaten season, however, pulling away to a five-point advantage as the pendulum swung once again in their favour at 77-72.
Rockets roared back to tie the game at 77 each soon after.
With just 50 seconds remaining and the scores tied, Rockets moved the ball around well to open up a shot for Jordan Dawes – a tough look from the same position as his memorable buzzer beater last season fell once again to hand us a late lead.
It would prove to be too much for Worcester to recover from with a pair of Gayle free throws and a powerful dunk from Sam Toluwase on the buzzer crowning a fine display of the grit and resilience Rockets have shown in spades throughout the course of the season.
Rockets are back in action this Saturday with the chance to clinch top spot against Nottingham Trent Hoods – the game is sold out but you can watch along live on our YouTube channel from 7:15pm!