Storm meet Rebels again in season-defining clash!

28/03/2024

Hemel Storm will look for a repeat of last weekend’s affairs when they travel to Essex this Saturday to clash with the Rebels for the second time in a week. Storm came out on top last time, pushing them above this week’s hosts but they know only a win on Saturday will keep them there come the end of the weekend. 

What we know about the Rebels…

Having occupied the top two places for the majority of the season-to-date, the University outfit will pose a huge threat to Storm. Their dynamic outfit of quick, athletic guards allow them to operate at a high tempo often used to suffocate their opponents into submission. The lively Victor Olarerin leads their annual scoring with 17.3 points per game, with fellow guards Luke Busumbru and Conor Nelson behind him on 11.9. With NBL experience sprinkled throughout their roster in the form of Olarerin, Busumbru, Elias Poorman and the Winter brothers, it is no wonder the Rebels are challenging at the top end of the standings. 

What we learnt last time out…

As expected, Saturday’s meeting was played at a frenetic, rapid tempo mostly generated by the Rebels. They took the game to Storm in a bid to unsettle them and worry them in front of their own fans, but Storm were able to get out to an early lead which proved to be vital. A run of 11 straight points to drag themselves back into the game exemplified the Rebels’ game plan to perfection, before Storm eventually regained control and closed out the tie. Essex’s fast paced game allowed them to take a staggering 17 more shots than their opponents, such was their intensity and forced 25 Storm turnovers. The Rebels survived on scraps, living off points from turnovers, fast-breaks and offensive rebounds but it was Storm’s superior field goal percentage of 48% that was pivotal in the overall result. 

Key matchups…

Last week saw thrilling battles all over the court, none more so than in the paint with Brayden Inger and Trey Chapman. Both went about their work doggedly, toiling away to come out on top. Inger eventually won this one, the emotion too much for Chapman to control as he was ejected and Inger ended up with a 15 point-11 rebound double-double that clinched him a place in Rebound’s Team of the Week. Chapman will be out for revenge, making the second instalment a fascinating element of this crunch tie. Taylor Johnson wore his heart on his sleeve, as always, and this resulted in moments of conflict throughout the game. Johnson knows the Rebels will be out to stop the man with a target on his back, and he must control his own emotion if Storm are to claim another crucial victory here. 

What it means for the league standings…

Storm must win to leave them knowing a win over London Elite the following week will secure second place. The Rebels will be determined to not only get their own back with a victory but to claim the all important head-to-head record, by defeating Storm by 10 or more points. If this was to happen, they could travel to Newcastle on the last week of the season secretly happy with second spot secured.  A winning margin of below 9 and they would need to beat Newcastle, with Storm relying on the Northerners doing them a favour to claim second and a home playoff semi-final where they could meet the Rebels yet again. 

It all adds up to a bumper tie, with lots to play for and recent history and rivalry bubbling in the background. Storm need your support so get yourself down to Essex on Saturday night for a 6.30 tip; tickets and info available here.

Written by Callum Humphrey

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