CWA Lynn Fury have been handed a basketball National League Division Four play-off lifeline after the weekend’s results.
Fury began the final quarter of their vital encounter at Barking and Dagenham Thunder embroiled in a hard-fought, one possession game.
Table topping Thunder stormed ahead on a 21-2 run to clinch an 88-67 victory, denting Fury’s play-off dreams.
However, in Cambridge the home team Cats fell 52-83 to Brentwood Fire leaving Fury with exactly the same scenario as last season. They face Cats at Lynnsport tomorrow (6pm) with both teams fighting for one play-off spot.
Cats defeated Fury by 82-73 in November so Fury must win Saturday’s game by 10 points, then close their season with victory over Northants Tauras the following week to make the post-season.
Fury coach James Bamfield was mindful of recent fourth quarter set-backs and structured his rotation to try and ensure that his players remained fresh, and in touch, entering the final period.
Even he did not anticipate such a fast start which saw his team begin the game with an 18-2 run which put the league leading Thunder on the back foot. Devidas Butkeviucius gave Thunder problems inside and Thomas Liberis converted a number of fast-breaks as Fury hustled Thunder out of their stride.
Good teams always find a response. Whilst their frustration showed in a series of conversations with match officials, Thunder also hit back to narrow the gap to 21-12 at the end of the opening period.
In the second quarter, Thunder ate further into Fury’s lead.
The opening five points of the quarter all went to Thunder meaning that they had scored ten unanswered ones to close to within four at 23-19.
Late in the quarter they used a 10-2 run to move ahead for the first time at 34-31 and the interval was reached with Fury trailing by two, 36-34.
Fury bounced back after the break. Both Midaukas Spukas and Richard Milbourne hit triples as Fury opened up a 45-40 lead. Thunder then found a three point threat of their own, scoring five of their next six baskets from behind the arc to take a narrow 61-58 advantage into the final quarter.
Fury had no answer to the Thunder storm which followed. Exerting a telling pressure defence and scoring triples almost at will, Thunder demonstrated why they are contesting the title with Brentwood.
The only consolation for Fury was news of the Cats score, while Thunder had hoped for the opposite result as Fire’s victory leaves them in pole position in the title race.
Leading Fury scorers: Butkeviucius 16, Spukas 14, Liberis 11, Eivydas Aleska 10.