Relentlessness rewards Storm with vital victory in the last home game of 2023


Saturday 9th December
Hemel Storm 92-60 City of Birmingham Rockets
NBL Division One

Hemel Storm returned to winning ways with an impressive 92-60 victory against the COB Rockets, in what was the final home game of 2023.

An exceptional first 15 minutes of the game proved to drive the home side into a comfortable lead, leaving the visitors from the West Midlands with no response to Storm’s high intensity. The selflessness and willing to work for each other presented Storm with many baskets in transition, delighting the home crowd.

From the first action of the game it was clear to see the team who were in the ascendancy. The reliable Hakeem Sylla was dominating in the paint against his opposite number - Commonwealth Gold Medallist Orlan Jackman. A couple of triples from Kiwi Brayden Inger was an ominous sign of things to come, alongside intense defence particularly from Tez Allen forced Coach Nuno Rodrigues of the Rockets into an early timeout. Despite the attempt to stop Storm’s momentum, the hunger of the home side remained, defending as a unit and capitalising off mistakes from the Rockets, who struggled to form any scoring runs. This gave Storm a 28-15 lead at the end of the quarter.

If there were any hopes from the visitors that Storm would slow down their impressive run, they swiftly diminished as the hosts crafted together a 12-4 run, sending the Rockets into another timeout with only 3 minutes 30 seconds played. However, Storm started to relax with complacency starting to slip through, leading to poor decision making and no points scored in the final 3:30. What could have been a 35+ point lead at half time was 25 as Storm went into the half time break leading 48-23. Despite a fantastic first half on the whole, Storm needed to remain disciplined to ensure that the visitors were not to get any hope of a comeback.

The third quarter was much more even, after what must have been an intense half time team talk from Coach Rodrigues to his Birmingham roster. It was the away side who came out with nothing to lose, implementing a full court press on Storm to force the home side into mistakes. Oberia was rewarded with a couple of dunks from this and Storm needed to stay calm amid the intense pressure that was being applied. Once Storm did beat the first phase of full court press, this opened up gaps in the Rockets defence, with key assists from Newman, who would finish with an all-round performance of 12 points, 13 assists and 5 steals. The lead began to form to an uncatchable distance with Storm in full control, aided by accurate shooting from both Inger and Swalve which enabled Storm to go into the final 10 minutes of play leading 69-42.

The game looked to have been won by the fourth quarter, as there was a noticeable drop in the tempo compared to the first quarter. Storm’s outstanding work rate had given them the chance to rotate players from the roster, continuing to execute their plays. Some energy was still showcased from players like Veron Eze and Matt Disu, who both proved to be tough to guard for the Birmingham defence. As the game was beginning to end, Birmingham did put together some baskets, however, it was nowhere near going to be enough to come back. The game finished 92-60, with Storm taking an important victory.

It was an impressive win for Storm, who worked hard to earn the right to be on the front foot in the game. Whatever was rehearsed in practice looked to have been executed to perfection, with plays which showed glimpses of last season’s undefeated campaign. However, making sure that Storm beat the team in front of them was always important, regardless of where they were in the standings. It is a great victory for Storm, moving onto their final game of 2023 away at Nottingham Hoods on Saturday 16th December.

Top Scorers: Brayden Inger 26 pts, Hakeem Sylla 22 pts, Seth Swalve 14 pts

Check out the game day photos taken by TGD Visuals on our website here.

Storm’s first home game of 2024 is on Saturday 6th January when current league leaders Essex Rebels visit the StormDome. Tip-off is 7pm. The team need their sixth man at this game so make sure you get your tickets via the Storm website;


Written by Ollie Heathcote

Photos by TGD Visuals


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