While Leicester Riders focus on continuing the defence of their coveted BBL Cup, the other frontrunners in the title race are in league action.
Worcester Wolves head to Sheffield Sharks this evening and will step onto the floor at the EIS looking to continue their hot form in the league, which like Newcastle and Leicester – has only returned one loss so far.
In stark contrast, the Sharks are languishing with a 3 and 4 record and outside of the early play-off positions, with veteran forward Mike Tuck looking forward to his side getting back onto an even keel and a winning platform.
He said, “We’ve been in these situations before and made comebacks.
“With a lot of important games coming up against good teams, we have an opportunity to prove ourselves and show we are still a ‘top of the table’ team.
“The most important thing for us is to close out games on top and get back on track.”
High-flying Esh Group Eagles Newcastle face another team struggling to find some consistency this season in Plymouth University Raiders. The Eagles make the long trip to Devon tomorrow night with the pressure on the home side, who have won only three of their opening 10 league games.
And, the Eagles are still looking to improve their own form collectively and individually, with Andy Thomson ominously stating, “I’m closer to where I want to be, but it comes down to being consistent every game I play.
“Once I put a few solid and consistent games in, I will be happier and able to build on that.”
The only two teams currently propping up Raiders are Leeds Force and Surrey United – with both looking to build on a solitary BBL Championship success and also both in action tonight.
Surrey head to Bristol Flyers as they continue their mammoth road trip sequence of six away games in seven outings – and with playmaker Elvisi Dusha keen to highlight the positives, despite the lack of victories.
He mused, “Last Saturday against Wolves was a really tough game and an very winnable game for us.
“We really showed that we can play, but we are really just missing a win to get us back on track.
“The positives we can take away is that we defended really well versus a great team and personally, I feel I gained a lot of confidence with my offensive side of things. I feel that I can now be much more off a threat offensively.
“Having so many road trips together has pushed us to our limits. It has been more tough due to the fact that pretty much most them games were not out of our reach and we just let them slip away.
“I feel that’s our problem right now – not bring able to put a lid on the game and wrap it up.”
Force meanwhile play host to Durham Wildcats in a near-derby fixture, with the visitors making a short trip down the A1. Oliver Hylands is ready for the challenge the hosts face and feels the newcomers have learned a lot since their opening night against Wildcats.
He claimed, “I think we’ve learned that we can’t afford to let off any team at any time throughout the game.
“It was a tough welcome into the league, we didn’t play well and they punished us for every mistake.
“We’ve definitely reduced our turnovers and learned to look after the ball better. I’m excited to play them again to see how far we’ve come since the start of the season.
“Without a doubt, Durham are playing well now based on their results. Ralph Bucciseems to be getting into his groove from what I’ve seen.”
Wildcats also head to the capital on Sunday for a tough match-up against London Lions, while on the same day there will be an emotional return to Manchester Giants for Cheshire Phoenix forward David Aliu.
From a Giants’ perspective, Callum Jones is glad to be back on home soil as the guard and his team-mates try to pick themselves up from being stung on the buzzer by Bucciat Wildcats last weekend.
“The Durham guys played a smart game and Ralph hit a really good shot,” he conceded.
“But, this Sunday is a completely new game and if anything, we should be even more focused after the losses last weekend.
“That said, if some of those open jump-shots or easy finishes in the lane had went last weekend, the results may have been different, so it’s not a case of making any drastic changes.
“It is just knowing our opponents and as a team, taking some of their strengths away and exploiting their weaknesses.”
Finally there is little doubt that most BBL neutrals will be focusing on the BBLtv game on Sunday which sees Leicester Riders welcome Glasgow Rocks in the BBL Cup quarter-finals, with Bristol Flyers awaiting the winners in the last four of the competition.
Rocks were beaten in a tight game last weekend against Riders, having fallen to Eagles 48 hours earlier, but sharp-shooting Tommy Freeman is far from downbeat with the Rocks’ performances.
He insisted, “Looking back at last weekend, I think it shows that even when we got down double digits in both games, we never stopped playing.
“Newcastle and Leicester had great game plans against us.
“However, we have the talent to compete with the top teams in the BBL.
“We were in both games and it’s just cleaning some stuff up on our end, in order to give ourselves a better opportunity come out with wins.”
Enjoy the games!
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