Traditionally, giant-killing acts in the first week of January are confined to the FA Cup Third Round but this year Worthing Thunder and Solent Kestrels both got into the act with victories against higher league teams in the first round of the BBL Trophy.

As invitees into a tournament predominantly for teams in the BBL one might have expected results to pan out somewhat differently than they did. First, on Saturday Kestrels overturned London Lions 92 -82 and less than 24 hours later Thunder enacted their own giant-killing feat – figuratively and literally – by beating Manchester Giants on their own court 88-84.

The combined results sets up an intriguing home BBL quarter-final match for Thunder with Kestrels which is sure to be a sell-out encounter between two of the very best teams in the National Basketball League.

Whilst Thunder’s result looked to be quite close, the reality of it was Thunder were always comfortably in command of the match enjoying a double-digit lead for most of the game. At one stage towards the end of the first quarter Thunder were 18 ahead and again in the third period the lead was a comfortable 16 points.

With just 3 minutes and 49 seconds of the game remaining the visitors looked to be at ease with a 12 point advantage at (86-74) but a 10-0 run for the home side saw them cut the deficit to just 2 points with a little over twenty seconds left on the clock. With Thunder in possession of the ball it was left for the Giants to foul the visitors in order to try and recover the ball but two free throws from AJ Basi in the dying seconds saw Thunder home to a memorable victory.

Once again it was the outside shooting from Thunder which caused most of the damage where Thunder hit a very creditable 15 baskets at a scoring rate of 45% and with Alex Owumi scoring 6 of 8 from long-range. Cameron Hildreth also had an excellent game scoring a double-double (14 points and 1-0 rebounds) but this was a solid all-round team performance for the visitors with all five starters hitting double-digit scores.

Scorers for Thunder:- Alex Owumi (22 points); AJ Basi (18 points); Cameron Hildreth (14 points); Zaire Taylor (13 points); Dominic Ives (13 points); Ismael Fontaine (3 points); Tom Ward (3 points); Josh Goddard (2 points).

Thunder are next in action away at top of the table Solent Kestrels next Saturday 11th January tip off 6pm in what is sure to be a competitive dress-rehearsal for the upcoming BBL Trophy quarter-final.