Hemel Storm down the Neptunes to maintain their playoff push

Darren Best top-scored for Hemel Storm against NASSA with 29 points
Darren Best top-scored for Hemel Storm against NASSA with 29 points

Hemel Storm are back in the race for a National Championship playoff spot after notching up what could prove to be their most important win of the season – a 98-79 victory over bottom of the table Newham NASSA Neptunes in London on Saturday.

Although NASSA are the League’s basement team they have claimed upset victories against perennial trophy winners Reading Rockets and Manchester Magic and were a dangerous opponent for Hemel.

This win has really set up our push for the playoffs

Hemel Storm head coach Steve Darlow

Storm started the game well, with both Bode Adeluola and Darren Best grabbing some early baskets as the visitors ended the first quarter up by eight points at 23-15.

Hemel kept their offensive efficiency going into the second period, even though the home side started to get their own game together.

Newham cut the Storm lead to just two points, before a defensive reshuffle by Hemel saw them increase their lead back into double figures.

At half-time the visitors had opened their advantage to 18 points at 49-31.

Hemel’s excellent movement on offence continued to create good scoring opportunities in the third quarter, while gritty and determined defensive work from Adeluola, Best, Walid Mumuni and Matt Hanson frustrated NASSA’s usual scorers.

Michael Darlow, Carl Josey and Tom Adorian cleaned up on the boards to give Storm a convincing 78-50 lead going into the fourth quarter.

The final period was a formality, although the Neptunes dragged the lead back somewhat before Storm ran out comfortable winners.

After the game a delighted Storm head coach Steve Darlow said: “This was a very pleasing win. NASSA proved in recent games that they have the ability to beat the top teams in our league.

“We were fully aware of their scoring potential and I was delighted with our defensive application and commitment as we frustrated and stifled their offence.

“This win, and the excellent victory over Reading, has really set up our push for the play offs.”

Hemel Storm’s next home game is at Sportspace on Saturday at 7pm against Worthing Thunder in a National League Division One game.

The game will be preceded by the Storm U18 side who will take on the London Westside Rangers in a Southern Premier League game at 4.15pm.

Tickets and more information can be found at www.stormbasketball.net