Tipping off the challenge this year are BBL newcomers Leeds Force, who welcome Manchester Giants from across the Pennines. Force head coach Matt Newby has endured a rough start to the club’s inaugural campaign in the league and is looking forward to his team improving and using the Cup as a welcome distraction from the pressure of delivering a first BBL Championship victory.

 Matt NEWBY“In the Cup competitions, you always want to make a run and there is an ability for the players to detach themselves from the seasons’ record at that juncture,” he accepted.

“I expect us to come out focused and intent on improving our output throughout the game.

“We have learnt a lot about ourselves and the opposition we have faced so far. In Durham we were poor across the board and it was genuinely tough to accept that we started our campaign like that. In both the Cheshire and Glasgow games, we had bright spells.

“We have had not had our full squad available and that has hurt us, but injuries will affect most teams throughout the season its simply part of the game.

“Improvements are required in a number areas and we also need to develop some resilience when other teams rally or go up a gear.”

Tomorrow sees Leicester Riders tip-off their defence of the BBL Cup with a home game against Surrey United – with the visitors no doubt buoyed by an early Championship win against the Rocks last weekend.

One of the most interesting Cup clashes arguably comes tomorrow night, when Bristol Flyers welcome back Plymouth Raiders in another derby and with the memories of Flyers’ opening night success against their south-west rivals still very much fresh in the mind.

“It was a great opening weekend for us,” smiled Roy Owen.

“Playing in the BBL is something that has been a goal for everyone involved in the club for a long time.

“So for it finally to happen (and get the win), was a great experience.”

Sunday will see Glasgow Rocks entertain London Lions in the BBLTV game and first Cup match-up to be screened this season, while Cheshire Phoenix host Durham Wildcats in the last Cup fixture of the weekend.

There are also three BBL Championship games to savour, with Esh Group Eagles Newcastle at home to Sheffield Sharks and looking for a first home win. Much of the focus last weekend was on Eagles’ player-coach Fab Flournoy passing the 4,000 points landmark – although the New Yorker hasn’t exactly been getting overly excited by the feat.

FAB 960

“”I have never based my game on individual milestones, and particularly not scoring ones” he laughed.

“So I could take it or leave it to be honest.”

Sharks were beaten by Giants on their last road trip and Patrick Horstmannis eager the team builds on getting stung early.

He stated, “We hopefully learned our lesson that any team can beat you in this league and especially when you play away.

“Our energy wasn’t high enough and Manchester played a great game that day and deserved to win.”

Finally, the Giants themselves will be out to win a third successive home game when they lock horns with Bristol Flyers on Sunday. Much of their good early season work has been generated from the hot-hand of David Watts, whose stunning shooting last weekend harvested him a spot in the BBL Team of the Week.

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And, the forward has been quick to heap praise on those around him who have helped him to build the platform he needs to be successful.

“Personally speaking, I gain confidence from the support of my team, my close friends, our amazing supporters and my family,” he revealed.

“They’re always a constant – no matter what my performance and they help keep me humble and grounded.

“I’m lucky to have three or four people that I’m very close to that always make time for me and we often speak and they offer advice, support and sometimes some tough love.

“I really can’t imagine my career without them.”

Story – BBL

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