GAMEDAY PREVIEW | D1 REBELS MEN VS WORTHING THUNDER
The wait is finally over as the Essex Rebel’s D1 Men get their season underway against Worthing Thunder in the National Basketball League (NBL) Division 1 season opener tomorrow.
The Rebel’s D1 Men return to the Essex Sport Arena with a wave of optimism for the new season following the exciting additions of seven summer recruits including Luke Busumbru, Kyron Martin, Victor Olarerin, Zain Poorman, Ebuka Ekwegh, Connor Nelson and Trey Chapman.
Led by coach Ross Norfolk, Rebels go into the game following a defeat to Reading Rockets last weekend in the quarterfinals of the KitKing Trophy. While they were knocked out, the experience was valuable preparation for the upcoming season with Zain Poorman shooting an impressive team-leading 32 points.
Essex Rebels will be aiming to significantly improve on their 11th place finish last season in what should be an exciting and closely fought game for Rebel fans.
WHAT COACH NORFOLK HAS TO SAY:
“Worthing are an established NBL 1 club. They had a great season last year finishing runners up so they know how to win. They have some new guys in this season and have some experienced pros. We have done our homework and had a solid week of practice which gives us confidence going into the game on Saturday. We are excited to start the season in front of a packed crowd at the Essex Sport Arena”
WHO ARE WORTHING THUNDER?
Worthing Thunder are based in Worthing, East Sussex, and have been a mainstay in Division 1 having competed in the league since 2011. Prior to this, Worthing had a short three-year stint in the British Basketball League (BBL) but struggled to make the step up with three bottom half finishes.
Worthing have made several changes to the team that finished 2nd in the NBL last season and were narrow runners-up to Hemel Storm in the NBL play-off final.
Notable new recruits include Daniel Johnson-Thompson who has signed from BBL side Newcastle Eagles, Luke Moore from local rivals Sussex Bears, twins Tyler and John Fairburn from Solent, and Tola Okiki from Newcastle University.
Worthing Thunder suffered an early KitKing trophy exit in the group stages despite beating Sussex Bears in their previous game due to Reading Rockets surprisingly losing to Barking Abbey.
This was a surprise given Worthing’s impressive season last year where they equalled their best-ever finish in the NBL, finishing 2nd behind unbeaten Hemel Storm.
LAST TIME OUT
Rebels played Worthing Thunder on 11 February 2023 at the Essex Sport Arena and were soundly beaten 90-65, with Andre Arissol and Hafeez Abdul joint-top scoring for the Thunder, with 16 points each and veteran Orlan Jackman added 15 of his own, putting Rebels out of the play-off race.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Star-man Hafeez Abdul returns for his third season with Worthing Thunder and has been one of Thunder’s most consistent performers the past two seasons. Last season, the 6’7’ forward averaged 15.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game, helping Thunder to a second-place finish.
In the 1999-2000 season when the team was founded, the team played as the ‘Worthing Rebels’ before changing to Thunder the following season.
Tickets are still available on Eventbrite. Don’t miss out and secure your tickets now as Rebels basketball returns!