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2015-16 Season Previews – Week 7

British_Basketball_League_(emblem)THIS WEEK’S GAMES
Thursday 29 October 2015
Friday 30 October 2015
Sunday 1 November 2015
London Lions v Manchester Giants
Where and when:
Copper Box Arena, 7.30pm Thursday 29 October
Summary:
Manchester Giants’ search for an end to their losing run takes them to the improving London Lionson Thursday.
Last Friday’s reverse at the hands of Bristol Flyers was the sixth defeat in a row for a Giants side that had started the season with back-to-back wins.
Lions, meanwhile, appear to have reacted well to the loss of star Demond Watt to injury, recording an impressive success at Cheshire Phoenix to follow up their BBL Cup triumph against Surrey Scorchers a week earlier.
Last time they met:
Manchester Giants 78 London Lions 96 (BBL Championship, Trafford Soccerdome, 19 April 2015)
Form:
Lions: WWLLWW
Giants: LLLLLL
Three Points:
  • Lions have brought back centre Olumide Oyedeji, who was with the club last season, and released Jorge Ebanks
  • Lions won all three meetings between the teams last season, having lost the two before that
  • Lions guard Nick Lewis leads the league in steals, with 2.6 per-game
What they say:
Lions coach Nigel Lloyd: “You can’t truly adapt to the loss of such an influential player but the team are trying to work harder for each other and we don’t have the luxury of taking plays off or not trying to execute our defensive assignments as Demond (Watt) would clean that up either with a blocked shot or finishing off the play with a basket.
“Manchester are a team who can score with any team in the BBL. They run their offence very well and they are comfortable in their roles and they have a coach in Yorick Williams who has experienced success in the league. Their record is not indicative of how they play and they will turn it around real soon.”
Giants forward Olu Babalola: “London is always a fun game as it’s my hometown. For me this year it’s even more exciting as I get to see my young boys Nick (Lewis) and Zach (Gachette) since they’ve left the nest, so to speak. They’re a talented, young, run-and-gun team and we need to match their intensity in order to have any chance.”
Sheffield Sharks v Cheshire Phoenix
Where and when:
EIS Sheffield, 7.30pm Friday 30 October
Summary:
Sheffield Sharks host Cheshire Phoenix on Friday and will hope their season is now under way in earnest after securing their first BBL Championship win last time out.
These teams have already met once this month, with Phoenix taking the victory on Sharks’ home floor.
But after a slow start, Atiba Lyons’ men are off the mark, thanks to a strong showing against Glasgow Rocks, and aim to inflict a fourth straight loss on the Cheshire club, who fell to London Lions last weekend.
Last time they met:
Sheffield Sharks 89 Cheshire Phoenix 97 (BBL Championship, EIS Sheffield, 02 October 2015)
Form:
Sharks: LLWLW
Phoenix: LWWLLL
Three Points:
  • Sharks’ Antone Robinson was named in the BBL All-Star Five for the first time after tallying 23 points and 19 rebounds against Glasgow Rocks
  • Forward John Barber is expected to make his Sheffield Sharks return in this game
  • Phoenix have won three of the last four meetings between these teams
What they say:
Sharks guard Mike Cook: “[Last time we met Phoenix] I think we learned more about ourselves. That was a team that had about four or five games under their belts at the time and it was only our second game so we weren’t in rhythm. We will be ready for them this time.”
Phoenix forward Jeff Dirkin: “I don’t think anything is missing, teams made an adjustment with how they were guarding us so it’s up to us to make our own changes. Also, we shot the ball well in the games we won and that’s something we need to do to be successful.

“We saw a lot of success in our zone defence against Sheffield so I expect we will play more of that. If we do that, and do a better job of identifying shooters within the zone we will be successful.”

Esh Group Eagles Newcastle v Glasgow Rocks
Where and when:
Sport Central, 7.30pm Friday 30 October
Summary:
The first BBL Cup Quarter-Final throws up a rematch of last season’s showpiece Final, pitting Esh Group Eagles Newcastle against Glasgow Rocks at Sport Central on Friday.
Eagles were victorious on that day in Birmingham, claiming what would be the first of four pieces of silverware.
They’ve started this campaign in similar fashion too, winning each of their opening eight games, including an impressive demolition of Leeds Force last time out, while Rocks struggled for consistency, coming up short against Sheffield Sharks in their previous game.
Last time they met:
Glasgow Rocks 70 Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 88 (BBL Trophy Quarter-Finals, Emirates Arena, 08 February 2015)
Form:
Eagles: WWWWWW
Rocks: WLWLWL
Three Points:
  • Eagles have reached the BBL Cup Final in each of the previous four seasons, lifting the trophy twice
  • These teams met five times last season and Eagles emerged victorious on each occasion
  • Eagles player-coach Fab Flournoy is one loss short of 150 in the BBL
What they say:
Eagles forward Stu Thomson: “We need to keep our focus and just remember everybody is out to get us, so that helps to keep us motivated and keep our attention to detail.
“For me personally it’s a continuation from last year with a few more responsibilities. The coaching staff are doing a great job of challenging me and pushing me each week.
“We expect a good challenge from [Glasgow] but as always, we will stay focused on us and what we do. It’s important to win that first piece of silverware for sure as we have goals and that first one is part them.”
Rocks forward Kieron Achara: “I’m feeling great. I know we will learn from Sunday’s loss and focus on being a more consistent team.
“We have an entirely new team from last year so we won’t be using last year’s [Cup Final] defeat as motivation. Instead, we will focus on us and striving to play the ‘perfect game’ this in turn will cause anyone we play problems.”
Plymouth University Raiders v Leicester Riders
 
Where and when:
Plymouth Pavilions, 7.30pm Friday 30 October
Summary:
Newly appointed player-coach Daryl Corletto and his Plymouth Raiders face a tough task if they are to end their winless start to the season against Leicester Riders on Friday.
Raiders fell to their fifth consecutive loss against Surrey Scorchers last weekend, with coach Jay Marriott having left the club earlier in the week.
Riders, on the other hand, have won each of their first five contests and their depth told once more as they overpowered Sheffield Sharks in the second half of their previous outing.
Last time they met:
Leicester Riders 109 Plymouth Raiders 75 (BBL Championship, Loughborough, 08 April 2015)
Form:
Raiders: LLLLL
Riders: WWWWW
Three Points:
  • Riders have won their last 11 games against Plymouth, a run stretching back to December 2012
  • Riders forward Shane Walker played for Plymouth during the 2013-14 season
  • Raiders have allowed league-high 91 points-per-game this season, while Riders have the best defence, giving up just 62.4 per-contest
What they say:
Raiders player-coach Daryl Corletto: “It’s another tough game and I guess the beauty of that is it is at our home court.
“We’re desperate to turn our season around and they are one of the top teams along with Newcastle, and last time we played Newcastle we pushed them to the edge last time.
“Leicester’s a great challenge but we’re getting better and we need to build on [last] week and hopefully take care of Leicester at home.”
Riders forward Shane Walker: “I’m settling in well. I’ve had some previous experiences practicing with this organisation over the years, so the transition has been pretty smooth so far.
“As a team I’ll start with the fact we are very well coached. I believe we have the best coach in the league, his characteristics are displayed in the way we play for each other. We play every game not only to win, but to work towards an end goal, plus the fact we have great depth. All these factors contribute to the team’s success so far.
“As far as the Plymouth game. We will get their best shot as we will from every team. I believe the Plymouth guys will play hard, and it should be a good game. I think they may play harder for this coach, a new coach always brings energy to a team.”
Sheffield Sharks v Worcester Wolves
Where and when:
EIS Sheffield, 3.00pm Sunday 01 November
Summary:
Sheffield Sharks welcome the in-form Worcester Wolves on Sunday, who arrive boasting an exciting new addition.
Following five wins from their first six games, Wolves have furthered strengthened their hand with the signing of guard, Josh Cameron, who was recently with the NBA Summer League team of the Memphis Grizzles.
His first opponents will be a Sharks side that claimed a first BBL Championship win of the season last weekend, and host Cheshire Phoenix on Friday ahead of this contest.
Last time they met:
Worcester Wolves 87 Sheffield Sharks 65 (BBL Championship, University of Worcester Arena, 27 February 2015)
Form:
Sharks: LLWLW
Wolves: WWLWWW
Three Points:
  • Wolves forward Ben Eaves could make his 100th BBL appearance in this game
  • Sharks lead the league in offensive rebounding, with 13.25 per game
  • Two of the last three meetings between these teams have been decided by three points or fewer
What they say:
Sharks guard Mike Cook: “It was a great win for us [against Glasgow], we’ve been through a lot to start this season off so we knew it would be a tough start. It was definitely a mental boost.
“I haven’t seen much of Worcester, it’s all about us, though. If we do what we are supposed to do on offence and defence we will be a tough team to beat going forward.”
Wolves guard Ashton Khan: “I am settling into Worcester very well, enjoying the town and the support from the fans. Our early success in the season has been based on following the gameplan that Coach PJ (Paul James) provides for us. We have some players that have played in this league before and know what it takes to be successful. We play for each other and for the Wolves, not individually, and I feel that plays a role in our early success thus far.
“The Sharks are a strong club regardless of their slow start this season. They have good players and are capable of beating any team, and we know that. We expect them to be aggressive and play hard and we want to be the ones to control the game from the start.
“We are going to need to focus in on their key players and take them out of their game early. We will watch film and become aware of who their threats are and what they like to do on the court. Coach PJ will provide a great gameplan to follow and we will have to execute that in order to win this important game.”

Tickets: www.sharksbasketball.org

Manchester Giants v Plymouth University Raiders

Where and when:
Trafford Soccerdome, 6.00pm Sunday 01 November
Summary:
Something has to give when Plymouth Raiders visit Manchester Giants on Sunday.
The two teams enter the weekend with the BBL’s two longest winless runs.
Giants, who go to London Lions on Thursday before this game, lost their last six games before that while Raiders have not registered a win in five attempts this term before hosting Leicester Riderson Friday.
Giants won the previous meeting between these two teams, 95-89, back in September.
Last time they met:
Manchester Giants 95 Plymouth Raiders 89 (BBL Championship Trafford Soccerdome, 27 September 2015)
Form:
Giants: LLLLLL
Raiders: LLLLL
 Three Points:
  • Giants (18.57) and Raiders (18.25) currently lead the league in fouls-per-game
  • Giants have won their last five games against Raiders
  • No team is averaging more offensive rebounds per-game than Raiders’ 13.25 while Giants are collecting the fewer total rebounds than any other team at 32.14
What they say:
Giants forward Olu Babalola: “There is so much we have to do as a team in order to start winning. So much. But I think we will get there eventually. Realistically speaking, we weren’t likely to win the league, so we just have to turn the corner and grind, and I’ll be the first to admit it starts with me. I have to do better, and in working on that.
“Having played for three player-coaches now, it’s the hardest job in basketball. It’s almost impossible to do both at just as high a level as if you were just focusing on one. So I don’t know how that will work out for them in the early stages. Also, Plymouth have great talent. They have strong bigs and guards who can really shoot the ball. So the win we have against them means nothing for this upcoming game.”
Raiders player-coach Daryl Corletto: “Every game is big now, but we’ll concentrate on this oneFriday night about 9.30pm after we’ve played Leicester.
“Last time we were in Manchester we were up 21, I think, heading into the last quarter and we ended up losing by six or seven. That was unacceptable and I feel we are a much better team now that we were back then.
“Our chemistry is better and our work ethic in the last week has been great. Guys are buying into the system.”

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