There are not only BBL Championship games to enjoy this weekend, but also the first BBL Trophy quarter-final which sees One Health Sharks Sheffield welcome Glasgow Rocks to the EIS with some added motivation in mind, having crashed 85-65 last weekend at the Emirates Arena.
They will also want to reach the semi-finals so they can make amends for a woeful BBL Cup last four performance earlier in the season when they were absolutely routed by eventual winners Leicester.
The real pressure will however be on Sterling Davis and the Rocks. For they will be desperate to ensure they reach the Final of the competition which is being hosted in Glasgow, during March.
Davis has identified the need to shackle Sharks’ forward Mike Tuck (pictured) as being the key to success, as well as playing the same intensity of defence which prevented their opponents getting past 65 points last Sunday.
As far as league matters are concerned, Mersey Tigers are still without a win and languishing rock bottom of the table. Their prospects of finally finding that elusive first victory in the short-term look decidedly bleak since they travel to Sport Central tonight to face co-leaders Newcastle Eagles and then host UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders on Sunday.
Gavin Love and the Raiders will have earmarked a win double since they firstly entertain Durham Wildcats at the Pavilions this evening. However, Raiders will know it will be difficult since there is a real dogfight taking place in the fight for play-off spots, as evidenced last time out when they needed double overtime to get past Manchester Giants.
Equally, Coach Love has admitted Wildcats’ star and reigning Molten BBL Player of the Month Ralph Bucci is turning back the clock and will need to be subject of rigorous defensive attention.
It’s a double away trip for Durham as they are back on the road on Sunday and heading for a potential crunch game against fellow play-off hopefuls Cheshire Phoenix at Northgate Arena.
Cheshire head coach Matthew Lloyd was quick to point out that each team has already beaten each other once this season and so this will be a pivotal match-up. He also still remembers giving up an eye-watering 59 first-half points to Wildcats when his side lost and so will be targeting a more watertight approach this time around.
Finally, Surrey Heat endured a rough weekend when they last stepped out, their title bid left hanging by a thread after successive losses against Giants and Riders.
So, they need to re-focus on cementing a top four place and that means having to bounce back against the hometown Worcester Wolves who will be eager to extract revenge for a gut-wrenching 71-69 loss to Heat earlier in the season.
Heat play-caller Creon Raftopoulos is acutely aware the Wolves are a very different team from the one he faced back then, citing the arrival of sharp-shooter Kai Williams in particular as one reason for the Wolves’ recent uplift in form.
Paul James meanwhile paid tribute to the Heat ahead of the game, admitting that they thoroughly deserve to be in the mix at the top of the table and acknowledging the quality and effectiveness of their chemistry and spirit.
The big question is whether Wolves will be rusty after an extended lay-off in the wake of last weeks’ snow-related postponement against London Lions.
Action Photo – MPhotography
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