Storm travel to bottom side Barking looking to extend winning run!

09/02/2024

Hemel Storm will travel to Coach Mark Clark’s former side Barking Abbey on Saturday, although Clark himself will be absent for the fixture. Assistant Michael Darlow will take the reigns, looking to secure what could be an important win in an ever-tightening title race. 

Clark spent 16 years working in Barking, leaving his role at the franchise in June 2022, after introducing the Academy setup which has proven revolutionary in shaping British Basketball throughout its existence. He was also a key part of the coaching setup, aiding both the men and the women teams in his spell at the club. 

Storm’s opponents on Saturday sit bottom in the 2023/24 league standings; however, and will be fighting to save their place in the NBL’s top tier for next year. They boast an unimpressive record of just two wins to accompany their 13 losses, although the young side has shown recent signs of promise in claiming both their season’s victories this calendar year. Barking struggled before Christmas failing to move off the foot of the table and register a single point to their name, falling to numerous close losses and some heavier defeats courtesy of the higher-ranked sides. However, since Christmas their fortunes seem to have turned, running Reading Rockets close and then claiming impressive victories over Birmingham and the Nottingham Hoods. They possess a young, enthusiastic side that were always going to take some time to settle into life in NBL Division 1, but will prove a threat as a roster full of potential begins to grow into their own. Academy prospects Moziah King-Danchie and Ethan Conway have stood out and look to have exciting basketball futures ahead of them, as well as more experienced D1 heads in Juan Manning and Sam Akano. Manning, previously of Thames Valley Cavaliers, leads the team in scoring on the year and Akano has further expressed his athleticism, moving on from Team Solent at the end of last campaign. 

Third-placed Storm know they come into the tie in good form, on a run of six straight victories. Fresh from a 20-point thrashing of Worthing Thunder last week, team-of-the-week entry Sam Newman will look to add to his tally of 112 assists; a stat for which he leads the league. 14 of those came last week, where he exhibited a fine showing of control and poise on the ball and enjoyed feeding the ball to Storm’s dominant inside threat of dual big-men Hakeem Sylla and Darien Nelson-Henry. Hemel, who average both the highest points scored and the least points conceded per game throughout the league, will look to repeat the clinical showing in Worthing where they repeatedly used strong defence to catalyse their fast-break offence to take the game away from their opponents.  The re-signed Taylor Johnson will look to establish himself in the league once more, settling back into NBL life after a short trip to the BBL and he could be crucial after the recent loss of Seth Swalve and some injury doubts looming within the squad. 

Storm will be sure not to sleep on the threat of Clark’s former side, who will bring a quick pace and upbeat tempo looking to capitalise on their youthful exuberance to cause Storm issues. Experienced heads and high quality basketball should be enough to guide Hemel through any challenges posed, although Barking cannot be overlooked on their home court offering a tight, tense experience for players and fans alike!

Tip-off in Barking is at 4pm, before Storm take a much needed rest the following weekend. Storm return home on the 24th February, kicking off a three-game home streak against the Bradford Dragons. Tickets and information available at www.stormbasketball.net.

Written by Callum Humphrey
Photos by TGD Visuals

 

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