British_Basketball_League_(emblem)THIS WEEK’S GAMES
Friday 8 April 2016
Saturday 9 April 2016
Sunday 10 April 2016
Wednesday 13 April 2016
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle v Glasgow Rocks
Where and when:

Sport Central, 7.30pm Friday 8 April

Summary:

Esh Group Eagles Newcastle aim to keep alive their hopes of retaining the BBL Championship when Glasgow Rocks visit on Friday.

It is likely that Eagles will have to win each of their remaining four games while hoping for a Leicester Riders slip-up, to snatch the chip.

But despite their fine recent record against Rocks, Eagles will face a tough task, against a side that have won five of their last seven games.

Rocks suffered a damaging defeat against top-four rivals Sheffield Sharks last time out, so will be motivated to produce a response too.

Last time they met:

Glasgow Rocks 72 Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 104 (BBL Championship, Emirates Arena, 30 December 2015)

Form:

Eagles: WWWLWW
Rocks: WLWWWL

Three Points:

* Eagles have won the last 15 meetings between these teams
* Rocks’ Kieron Achara, and Charles Smith and Rahmon Fletcher from Eagles, were all selected as starters in the latest BBL All-Star Five
* Smith needs 14 more points to reach 7,000 in the BBL Championship

What they say:

Eagles guard/forward Charles Smith: “It was very important to pick up two wins [last weekend]. Both Bristol and Manchester are good teams and I think we did a great job with matching their energy. Our focus this weekend will be to play better then we did last week.

“Glasgow have been playing very well and have picked up big wins. They play as a team and everyone knows their roles. Will [Hall] and Kieron [Achara] have both been playing great of late so we will have to match their energy and rebound. If we do that it will give us a great opportunity to win the game.”

Rocks coach Sterling Davis: “As before the Sheffield game, we want to continue to focus on one game at a time and will continue to do that.

“Where that leaves us at the end will happen but our focus is trying to finish off the season as healthy and strong as possible.

“We have had mixed performances against Newcastle – both losses but still mixed performances. Our first meeting against them was much more assertive.

“We have to get our levels up to their standard if we want to walk out of there with a win.”

Tickets: www.newcastle-eagles.com

London Lions v Worcester Wolves 
Where and when:

Copper Box, 7.30pm Friday 8 April

Summary:

London Lions and Worcester Wolves still have plenty for play for as the regular season comes to a close.

Wolves finally lost their grip on third spot last weekend, and could yet slip further depending on how they close out the campaign.

Lions, meanwhile, are not certain of a place in the Play-Offs ahead of their game against Leicester Riders on Wednesday and their final few results seem set to have a big impact on who they will face in BBL Play-Offs Quarter-Finals.

Last time they met:

London Lions 80 Worcester Wolves 72 (BBL Championship, Copper Box, 16 February 2016)

Form:

Lions: LLLWWL
Wolves: LWWLWL

Three Points:

* Wolves’ Ashton Khan missed last week’s defeat against Riders due to an ankle injury
* Lions eliminated Wolves in last season’s BBL Play-Offs Quarter-Finals, when they met as sixth and third seeds respectively
* Jamal Williams needs five more rebounds to reach 500 in the BBL Championship

What they say:

Lions coach Nigel Lloyd: “At the moment we are up and down and we need to get on a run because everyone wants to be playing their best basketball when they go into the Play-Offs.

“We are starting to get a feel for playing for pride in our home venue. Worcester are a Play-Off team and they are trying to build to play their best basketball.

“We always get up for these kind of games. We need to learn if we can play consistently at a high level. We do it for stretches, but not the whole 40 minutes. We want to make sure that we can play at a consistently high-level against big-time Play-Off teams until the game is over.”

Wolves guard Ashton Khan: “My ankle is getting better. My foot is still sore when I try and jump and move side to side, so this weekend is still in question but I definitely should be good for the following weekend.

“I am just taking the proper action to get the ankle back to as close to 100 per cent to finish this season strong for my team and give a great Play-Off push.

“London are a team that’s up and down and it seems against us they are always up, maybe because three of their players are former Wolves players.

“We need to punch first in that game and not let them punch us first. We need to set the tone early and the tempo of the game. We lost to them last time so we owe them one.”

Tickets: www.londonlionsbasketball.com

Leeds Force v Leicester Riders

Where and when:

Carnegie Sports Centre, 7.30pm Friday 8 April

Summary:

Leeds Force have extended their fight for a BBL Play-Off spot to the penultimate week of the regular season.

Force host league leaders Leicester Riders on Friday still in with a chance of a first trip to the post-season, after a sensational victory against London Lions last time out.

Matt Nebwy’s men would require results elsewhere to go their way – as well as something special to upset the streaking Riders, who have won 11 in a row – but will believe anything is possible.

Last time they met:

Leicester Riders 91 Leeds Force 43 (BBL Championship, Loughborough, 02 January 2016)

Form:

Force: LWLLLW
Riders: WWWWWW

Three Points:

* Riders have won their last 17 consecutive away games
* Riders’ Rob Paternostro was named BBL Coach of the Month for March, his second monthly award in a row
* Riders have won all six BBL meetings between these teams

What they say:

Force coach Matt Newby: “We’ve got to step up against one of the best; ultimately we’re trying to play for eighth spot.

“Leicester are Leicester at the end of the day. I’m not necessarily worried about who they are on the night, I’m worried about who Leeds Force are on the night.

“They are the deepest team in the league and they are going to give us a hard time.

“Rob [Paternostro] doesn’t hold back whether he’s playing Newcastle or teams from the lower tier of the league.

“We’ve got to force them to play our style of basketball, at our speed and then we can go from there.

“I’d like to think you’d treat every game as your biggest game but ultimately there’s going to be a lot of media focus on this game.”

Rider guard Tyler Bernardini: “You can feel that you’ve played four games in seven days or five in eight. That’s not something you can ignore, especially when you are playing heavy minutes.

“But nobody cares. If we go and drop two games, there’s not going to be an asterisk next to those two games saying, ‘they played a lot of games’. It would just be we’re second, and Newcastle are first.

“We are playing for a championship so we better win the games no matter how they are scheduled.”

Tickets: www.leedsforce.co.uk

Bristol Flyers v Worcester Wolves

Where and when:

WISE Basketball Arena, 7.30pm Saturday 8 April

Summary:

Ending the season on a high will be the motivation for Bristol Flyers ahead of Saturday’s visit of Worcester Wolves.

Four defeats in a row have all but ended Flyers’ hopes of a second post-season appearance – although there is still a slim chance they could sneak in, if they win all of their remaining games and a series of other results fall their way.

All Andreas Kapoulas’ men can control, however, is their own performance against a Wolves side that has already beaten them three times this season.

Wolves go into the game battling for the best possible Play-Offs seed having lost against Leicester Riders last weekend and will have faced London Lions 24 hours before this one.

Last time they met:

Bristol Flyers 73 Worcester Wolves 86 (BBL Trophy First Round, WISE Basketball Arena, 09 January 2016)

Form:

Flyers: LWLLLL
Wolves: LWWLWL

Three Points:

* Wolves’ Jay Couisnard scored 22 points when these teams met back in January
* Flyers’ Andreas Kapoulas was last week named as the new head coach of the Great Britain under-20s men’s team
* Flyers were without star guard Cardell McFarland during last week’s defeat against Eagles

What they say:

Flyers forward Daneil Edozie: “These last two weeks are important to at least show that we are a good fighting team.

“We have to learn how to play together as well as play for each other. I think we’ve had several moments when we did play together, we showed that we are a solid team filled with good talent and with these last four games to play, we have to play together no matter what the circumstances.

“Worcester are a good, solid team with solid individual players. They play well and play as a whole and in addition, they have a few talented players as well as good role players.”

Wolves guard Ashton Khan: “Bristol are a tough-nosed team and they give us a battle each and every night.

“They are well coached and prepared, so we know they will be ready for us whether they are in a Play-Off position or not. Their coach will have them ready.

“We must be ready to buckle down as focus on defence. It’s going to be a back-to-back game for us, which makes it tough. But we need to pick up these two wins and next weekend’s wins to give ourselves complete confidence going into the post-season.”

Tickets: www.bristolflyers.co.uk

Leicester Riders v Sheffield Sharks
Where and when:

Leicester Community Sports Arena, 7.30pm Saturday 9 April

Summary:

Leicester Riders must go through one of their toughest opponents if they are to claim the BBL Championship title.

Sheffield Sharks visit the East Midlands on Saturday having causing the BBL Trophy winners more problems than most this season.

Aitba Lyons’ men were the first team to beat Riders this term and held them to a rare tie in the first leg of their BBL Trophy Semi-Final.

Sharks come into the game off the back of an important win against Glasgow Rocks too, with Riders facing Riders travelling to Leeds Force 24 hours before this one.

Last time they met:

Sheffield Sharks 70 Leicester Riders 74 (BBL Trophy Semi-Final, second leg – Riders won 153-149 on aggregate, EIS Sheffield, 17 February 2016)

Form:

Riders: WWWWWW
Sharks: LWLWWW

Three Points:

* Riders and Sharks have each won three of their last seven meetings, with one tie
* Sharks eliminated Riders in last season’s BBL Play-Off Quarter-Finals
* Colin Sing needs nine more defensive rebounds to reach 500 in the BBL Championship

What they say:

Riders guard Tyler Bernardini: “We have a special group that cares about winning and no matter what the schedule is, no matter what the situation is, no matter what the scores in the games are or however much time is left, we are a group that is going to find a way to get a win.

“I never thought we were in second, I always considered is being in first place, no matter it says on the table.”

Sharks forward Patrick Horstmann: “The game in Glasgow was a very important one, both regarding the standing in the league and gaining momentum prior to Play-Offs, so it was great for us to be able to return with a victory against a really good Glasgow side.

“Leicester are a great team with great players and a great coach. They are top of the league for a reason and every game against them is a tough and close one and I expect nothing else this Saturday.”

Tickets: www.leicesterriders.co.uk

London Lions v Esh Group Eagles Newcastle
Where and when:

Copper Box, 4.00pm Sunday 10 April

Summary:

A rematch of last season’s BBL Play-Off Final could go some way to determining how both sides enter this term’s post-season.

London Lions and Esh Group Eagles Newcastle meet at the Copper Box on Sunday chasing Play-Off momentum, as well as regular season goals.

Eagles can still retain their BBL Championship crown, if they finish strongly and Leicester Riders slip-up.

And, at the time of writing, Lions top-eight spot is not confirmed.

Eagles host Glasgow Rocks on Friday ahead of this one, when Lions will have faced Worcester Wolves, after a midweek trip to Leicester.

Last time they met:

Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 83 London Lions 81 (OT)(BBL Championship, Sport Central, 04 March 2016)

Form:

Lions: LLLWWL
Eagles: WWWLWW

Three Points:

* Eagles have won the last eight meetings between these teams
* Scott Martin had 18 points and nine rebounds when these teams met last month
* Lions lead the BBL in offensive rebounds per-game with 12.54

What they say:

Lions coach Nigel Lloyd: “We are trying to figure it out. We all know what the problems are, it’s just a case of getting them into game situations. We need to make sure we do it on game floor every night. We are aiming for that first and then we will see how the results come. Right now, we are playing our best basketball on the practice floor and we need to play it when it counts.

“They were the champions last year, they’ve won something already this year and they are fighting for the title as well. This is our first time playing them at home. I think we played them very well on the road, and we want to take that into this game.”

Eagles guard/forward Charles Smith: “The London game will be another tough one for us. We will need to get the long trip off us and make sure we are warmed up and ready to play from the start.

“They are a very physical team so we will need to be prepared for that. We can’t allow their shooters any open looks and once again we will need to rebound the ball.”

Tickets: www.londonlionsbasketball.com

Manchester Giants v Sheffield Sharks
Where and when:

Lucozade Soccerdome, 6.00pm Sunday 10 April

Summary:

Manchester Giants will be out to give their home fans something to cheer when they host Sheffield Sharks on Sunday.

Giants’ key objective will be to finish the season on a high and avoid finishing at the foot of the table while rewarding the fans that have stuck through them during a trying campaign.

Sharks, on the other hand, broke into the top three last weekend and will be keen to keep hold of that Play-Off seed.

Atiba Lyons’ men face Leicester Riders on Saturday, ahead of this one.

Last time they met:

Manchester Giants 70 Sheffield Sharks 93 (BBL Championship, Lucozade Soccerdome, 24 January 2016)

Form:

Giants: WLLWLL
Sharks: LWLWWW

Three Points:

* Sharks have won the last six meetings between these teams
* Giants’ Stef Gill needs two more steals to reach 250 in the BBL Championship
* Giants lead the league in free-throw percentage at 73.22%

What they say:

Giants guard forward Ingus Bankevics: “We have spoken as a team and know that we need to give out best, give our all to help each and try and play well for the fans that come and pay money and support us in every game.

“I want to say a big thank you to all the people that come and support us, and for their kind words. Myself and the whole team really appreciate it.

“Sheffield, this year, are playing really good basketball. They have really good big guys. We need stop them from getting easy baskets.

“We need to play much better defence than in our last game against them, commit less turnovers and trust each other, make the extra pass and believe in each other.

“We are playing in our gym, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

Sharks forward Patrick Horstmann: “Manchester are better than their record. They have got really good players that can score in bunches so we know that we have to play our best to have a chance to win against them.”

Tickets: www.manchestergiants.com

Plymouth University Raiders v Bristol Flyers
Where and when:

Plymouth Pavilions, 4.00pm Sunday 10 April

Summary:

Plymouth Raiders still have work to do to secure their place in the BBL Play-Offs.

The Devon club go into the penultimate weekend of the regular season in the eighth and final post-season place, two points ahead of Leeds Force.

But having lost their last two games, against Cheshire Phoenix and Leicester Riders, player-coach Daryl Corletto will be looking for a response from this team in this one.

Flyers still have a chance to sneak into the Play-Offs, going into the weekend, but require a series of events to occur in their favour, and face Worcester Wolves on Saturday before this one.

Last time they met:

Plymouth Raiders 91 Bristol Flyers 72 (BBL Championship, Plymouth Pavilions, 20 March 2016)

Form:

Raiders: WWLWLL
Flyers: LWLLLL

Three Points:

* Cory Dixon went for 23 points and eight rebounds when these teams met last month
* Flyers have won six of the seven meetings between these teams
* Raiders player-coach Daryl Corletto leads the league in free-throw shooting percentage at 92.5%

What they say:

Flyers forward Daniel Edozie: “Playing against Plymouth for the final time is going to be a fun game.

“I think this time, based on the outcome of the last game, it’s definitely going to be a war zone out there on the court. Whoever wins is going to win the head-to-head. The main focus will be to keep our composure and again, play together as a collective unit. We’re going to have a few objectives of our own to control certain aspects of the game but other than that, have fun and play together.”

Tickets: www.plymouthraiders.com

Glasgow Rocks v Plymouth University Raiders

Where and when:

Emirates Arena, 6.30pm Wednesday 13 April

Summary:

Expect a battle when Plymouth Raiders visit Glasgow Rocks on Sunday.

Both teams are still fighting for the best possible BBL Play-Off seeding, as well trying to discover their best form heading into the post-season.

Raiders have held the upper hand over Rocks in recent meetings, but enter this one following recent losses to Cheshire Phoenix and Leicester Riders.

The Scottish club suffered recent disappointment too, in their crunch clash against Sheffield Sharks and will be keen to make amends.

Last time they met:

Plymouth Raiders 73 Glasgow Rocks 69 (BBL Championship, Plymouth Pavilions, 13 March 2016)

Form:

Rocks: WLWWWL
Raiders: WWLWLL

Three Points:

* Raiders have won eight of the last nine meetings between these teams
* Rocks’ Kieron Achara was named Molten BBL Player of the Month for March, his second consecutive monthly award
* Raiders’ Adrien Sturt scored a season-high 24 points when these teams met last month

What they say:

Rocks coach Sterling Davis: “We feel that we are scrapping just as hard as they, or any other team is right now.

“Every team right now has an agenda that they want to either maintain or reach so I think all games that are played from this point will be battles.”

Tickets: www.glasgowrocks.co.uk