On Sunday afternoon, UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders will host BBL Cup holders Newcastle Eagles in the semi-final first leg in what is a repeat of last seasons’ showpiece Final.
And, Eagles’ sharp-shooter Joe Chapman is bracing himself for a difficult game in the West Country with preparation the key to success – and especially with both teams so familiar with each other.
“We’ll probably leave on Saturday morning and get prepared,” explained the guard. “It’s important we’re ready to play.”
He added, “We know everything about them, and they know everything about us.”
However, both teams must firstly focus on league action tonight with Raiders desperately needing to find a win at One Health Sharks Sheffield to avoid losing further ground in the title race. They picked up a third defeat of the season last weekend, and a fourth before the end of November would really have them on the back foot.
The Eagles meanwhile will welcome Cheshire to Sport Central who will still be on a high after their buzzer beating win in the north-west derby against Manchester Giants last Sunday.
Although according to Cheshire small forward Chris Pearce, the players are focused solely on what now lies ahead and that means neutralising the Eagles’ perimeter threat.
“We know we are in for a tough, physical battle on Friday night,” insisted Pearce.
“They have many dangers and especially Charles Smith who is one of the best players I have seen in the BBL.
“Also Joe Chapman always seems to get hot from outside every game at some point too.”
Cheshire will know that their most realistic opportunity of success is likely to come back on their home floor on Sunday when they welcome Durham Wildcats to the Northgate Arena with both teams aware a victory would give them a huge lift on the long road towards ultimately achieving a play-off spot.
Wildcats will also sense this is their best chance of a win this weekend too. For they have an extremely tough match-up at table topping Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders tomorrow evening.
London Lions are trying their best to pull away from the teams scrambling around at the bottom of the standings. They need to elevate themselves into a position where they can firstly get back on an even keel record-wise, and then maybe even join the chase for a top six finish if they get some momentum behind them.
Crucially, Vince Macaulay and his players face one of the teams just above them tonight in the shape of Worcester Wolves, and if they can rustle up a victory, they will go a long way to bridging the current gap. Even more so since they will be overwhelming favourites to comfortably despatch Mersey Tigers on Sunday.
Wolves will also know that a road win in the capital will help to keep Lions at bay and get themselves rolling again. It will also be a nice launch-pad for a potential weekend win double if they can follow it up with a victory against One Health Sharks Sheffield tomorrow – a team they have already beaten at home this season.
Lastly, Surrey Heat lost for only the second time last weekend when they were shot down by Glasgow Rocks, but they should have little concerns about bouncing straight back at still winless Mersey Tigers tonight.
Enjoy the games!
Story – BBL
Photo – Ralph BUCCI
Photo – Sharks Action
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