Worthing Thunder have told their fans to expect more signings in the coming days after picking up a giant Latvian.

Barker (Tarring) Thunder have brought in 6ft 8in forward Janis Ivanovskis as they prepare to defend their EBL divison one regular season title.

Steve Gayle, however, will not be part of the title defence.

The free-scoring guard has returned to his native Manchester to take up a teaching job.

Thunder have eight players confirmed for the coming season and have revealed their remaining signings will include at least one familar face.

There is also likely to be a player new to Thunder fans.

Ivanovskis joins the team from NAIA division one college Cumberland, where he averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds in his senior year.

Cumberland play in the NAIA Midsouth Conference that produced previous Thunder stars Gaylon Moore (Union) and Teon Knox (Pikesville).

Ivanovskis will be playing for Thunder this year prior to taking a Masters Degree at Harvard in autumn 2007.

Assistant coach Alan Sweetman-Hicks said: "Janis gives us great options on the inside. Together with Pat Bates, Hank Rivers and Dan Shotton we now have four players that we can interchange in the paint, giving the team different looks and keeping the opposition on their toes."

Rivers, Ivanovskis and former Brighton Bear Danny Midgley all enjoyed court time as Thunder lost 118-112 in a behind-closed-doors scrimmage with the touring USA Select last night. Alfredo Ott piled up 41 points and Ivanovskis had a double-double.

Sweetman-Hicks said: "It was very much a practice game and the key thing was to get the new guys in."

Thunder have a friendly at home to Guildford Heat, whose signings include former Bears forward Radhi Knapp, on Saturday (8pm).