Much attention this week has been on Leeds Force, who followed up their acquisition of Sam Attah from Durham with a deal for Great Britain national team guard, Devon van Oostrum as they bid to make a late charge for the play-offs.
Having beaten Sharks last weekend in the Yorkshire derby, the Force are now sensing another scalp when they entertain Plymouth University Raiders tonight.
“Obviously it always feels good to get a win and being able to pull out one on the road against a good team is definitely a confidence booster,” smiled playmaker James McCann, who thinks Attah made the difference.
“Sam is a very good player and has a good amount of BBL experience.
“He is an athletic guy that can do a bit of everything and also brings in some more leadership.
“We now need to be able to keep our composure in the fourth quarter in all of our games, similarly to how we did against Sheffield.”
From a Plymouth standpoint, point-guard Josh Wilcher was left ruing a missed opportunity against Worcester Wolves as his team went down in a hard fought defeat – although he is also hoping recent additions can help turn their season around.
He bemoaned, “Sunday was a very tough loss as we really felt that we should have took that game away.
“But credit to Worcester as they are a very talented and tough team across the board.
“The new guys in Ben (Mockford) and Jordan (Clarke) are great for us and they have both settled in and are playing nicely with us.
“Ben especially helps myself and Brent (Benson) as he is another ball handler that can get on the ring – something which frees us both up.”
Arguably the biggest game of the weekend outside of the BBL Cup Final match-up also includes Esh Group Eagles Newcastle.
They face Wolves at the University of Worcester Arena this evening and will be going up against a team in form, who have coped admirably without the services of injured star center, Robert Thurman.
Much of the weight of replacing him has fallen onto the shoulders of the ever-reliable Jamal Williams.
“With Rob being a huge part of our team on both ends, we have all had to adjust and from my perspective, it means I have been moved to the five spot,” mused Williams.
“I haven’t noticed any change offensively but defensively, I have had trouble at times guarding other big men around the league and keeping our same level on the boards, which we have when Rob has been there.”
Williams is perhaps undervaluing the role he has played and just how effective he has been, with Wolves needing to be at their best if they want to end the stunning winning streak of the visitors.
Also in the hunt for the BBL Championship should the Eagles falter, are Cheshire Phoenix who are also on a nice run of victories.
British forward David Aliu has been a key factor in their rise to prominence and he was pleased to have come out on top in the previosu game against his former team.
“Manchester played really well and we had to dig deep to get the win, but it shows how far we have come as a team,” said Aliu.
“Credit to Coach Coffino for stressing the important factors since day one – in terms of playing defence and sticking together.
“It was one of those games where we made unselfish plays down the stretch.”
They face a tricky road trip to Sheffield this evening who are turning to former standout star, Mike Cook as they look for more consistency.
There are also two match-ups tomorrow to savour, with Durham Wildcats looking to build on their current position when they travel to Surrey United off the back of the confidence gleaned from a triumph last weekend.
“Each game is always a new start, but it always good when you get a win to help your confidence and team spirit,” declared veteran guard, Ralph Bucci ahead of the trip to Guildford.
Finally, Leicester Riders will have to find their ‘A-game’ to navigate a road trip at Bristol Flyers – a side always keen to deliver a surprise.
However, in-form Riders’ forward Rashad Hassan is only concentrating on his own team and not anybody else, as Leicester look to add further weight to their title challenge.
“I just try to ignore everything that doesn’t concern us,” claimed Hassan.
“I’ve learned from last season that the table can be very unpredictable, so you just have to focus on your own situation.
“As a team, we have to focus on winning one game at a time and playing hard for 40 minutes.
“If we give our best effort every night, then I’m sure we will have a successful season.”
He added, “I feel very comfortable on the court this season as I’m more familiar with pro basketball and I’ve always enjoyed playing for the Riders.
“I think the hard work I put in all summer has been paying off. “My confidence in myself and the team is at an extremely high level.
“The momentum is high for us and our biggest goal is to keep it going now.”
Enjoy the games!
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