Fury must storm Thunder to reach the play-off final

Fury play-off 28.3.15'Tony Payne
Fury play-off 28.3.15'Tony Payne
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CWA Lynn Fury and their loyal fans visit East Midland National League Division Four rivals, Barking and Dagenham Thunder in the semi-final of the play-offs tomorrow (6pm).

A tremendous atmosphere is anticipated at the Barking Abbey Leisure Centre where Thunder have a strong following of their own.

Fury have already disposed of Brunel University Ducks 91–82 and Brentwood Fire 85-73 in the play-offs.

With a travelling support of 70 expected to give Fury the extra man, this game is being seen like a cup final by Fury.

Club promoter Kevin Holland said: “These last two games have been like cup finals to us. No-one expected us to get this far and we’re just enjoying the ride.

“If we win, we win; if we lose, we lose. All I know whatever the result on Saturday evening we’ll travel back to King’s Lynn on the coach like champions knowing what we have achieved this season.

“It’s been a great ride and if we get one more match out of it, then great.

“It’ll be another excuse for our amazing fans to be part of something very special with the Fury family.”

The winner will proceed to the National Finals to be held at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield at midday on Saturday, April 18. Division Four comprises 49 teams divided into five regional sections with the top three teams from each section, plus the best fourth place team qualifying for the play-offs.

All play-off teams are seeded on the basis of their regular season record. Fury, who finished third in their division, were seeded 13th; Thunder, in second place, seeded eighth.

Neither side was therefore expected to reach the semi-final round. Thunder arrived having defeated BC Crawley Utd (ninth seed) by 89-70 and then scored a mightily impressive 87-82 overtime win against number one seed, the previously undefeated Team Newcastle University.

In the quarter-final Fury beat their own divisional champions, Brentwood (fourth seed) and then defeated South East divisional champions Brunel (fifth seed).

This match-up is an indication of the strength of the schedule in the East Midlands Division. Fury’s last defeat came at the hands of Thunder when, having established a strong early lead, they were blown away. Thunder racked up a 27-9 fourth quarter to emerge with an 88-67 victory.

Following that reverse Fury’s play-off hopes were slim. They had to win against a strong Cambridge Cats side by at least ten points and then defeat the tricky Northants Tauras.

In both those games and the first two play-off games, Fury have never been headed. They beat the Cats by an amazing 93-59 then took Tauras apart 113-68.

The advantage held by Fury in all four games has been the diversity of their offense. They have quick athletic players allied to a strong three-point attack. When opponents attempt to shut them down from beyond the arc, Fury have been able to use the height of Deividas Butkevicius.

Thunder can match Fury for athleticism, power and shooting accuracy. It took overtime to separate the sides when Thunder visited Lynnsport in November and went home with an 89-82 victory.

Fury had led by seven going into the fourth quarter so they must play for the full 40 minutes if they are to reach Sheffield; coach James Bamfield believes that his squad has the potential to go all the way.