Battling win in Birmingham for Storm!

17/03/2024

Saturday 16th March
City of Birmingham Rockets 71 – 96 Hemel Storm
NBL Division One

Hemel Storm overcame a tricky tie away at Birmingham Rockets, eventually running out comfortable 71-96 victors. Veron Eze stole the show with a dazzling 27 points paired with 8 rebounds and it was a determined display by a united roster. 

The trip to Rockets presented itself as a real obstacle for a Storm side buzzing off the back of last week’s double winning weekend, as the Rockets came into it in their own good form. With a recent history of downing high-flyers Essex Rebels and Reading Rockets, the home side would have fancied their chances of another upset, especially with the visitors missing Hakeem Sylla through injury. However, Storm pulled together and produced a dogged display to claim what could be a vital win in their bid to push into the top two and secure a home spot in the postseason quarter and semi-finals.

The first quarter was a scrappy, frankly low quality affair as both teams battled for control. Resistant defence saw stingy scoring to open the game, but it was Storm who took the early upper hand. Darien Nelson-Henry used all his physical presence and wit to grab 13 rebounds and fill any hole Hakeem Sylla may have left and it was he and Veron Eze’s early points that saw the Storm lead to five at the end of the first period: 16-21. 

Orlan Jackman deployed himself as a nuisance as ever, and with the help of fellow veteran Sam Toluwase they worked away at the Storm lead. The deficit was reduced to three; fluency and rhythm at a premium within the visitors’ offence. Tez Allen stepped up at a crucial moment, offering a glimpse at the flow Storm were desperate to discover with back-to-back three pointers and his side led by seven at the half time break: 35-42. 

Birmingham were clinging to the tails of their visitors valiantly, and Storm struggled to shake off their strong grip. Second chance points began to cause damage, with Toluwase proving a menace under the basket and perhaps Hakeem Sylla’s absence was finally being felt. Matt Disu’s impact from the bench stretched the lead to a commanding 15, adding to Storm’s vital 36 bench points but just as they seemed to be easing into the ascendancy they were dragged back. A late 12-6 run from the hosts pulled the difference to 7 heading down the final stretch. 

14 final quarter points from Eze was too much for a tiring Birmingham side to deal with. After last week's heroics, Veron continues to impress as he grows into his role in the side and shone here with a game-high 27 points. Taylor Johnson also had 26 and a well-rounded team display was capped with an impressive 11 Sam Newman assists, as he steadied the Storm ship that threatened to rock at times. 

As the final buzzer sounded, another solid weekend’s work was completed and the visitors set off home happy; 71-96 the final scoreline. 
 
Next week is a home double header; tickets and information available at www.stormbasketball.net

Written by Callum Humphrey
Photo by Leuis Charles

Copyright Hemel Storm Basketball