• Wed. Dec 6th, 2023

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

British_Basketball_League_(emblem)In an action-packed weekend, two more BBL Cup Semi-Finalists will be confirmed alongside Esh Group Eagles Newcastle.

Leicester Riders have a track record of success in the competition having won the BBL Cup two years in a row in 2013 and 2014 and they host Sheffield Sharks – who also went back-to-back in 2010 and 2011 – in Loughborough on Sunday.

The two teams met in the league last month and it was Rob Paternostro’s Riders side who claimed a 96-77 victory as part of their 6-0 start to the BBL Championship.

Before those two lock horns, the second Quarter-Final sees Worcester Wolves take on London Lionstonight for a place in the last four. Paul James’ side have only lost once so far this season having established a 6-1 mark in the league to keep pace with the frontrunners.

American forward Perris Blackwell has been monumental at both ends of the floor for the Wolves this season – averaging 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game – and he believes the loss against Leicester was an important lesson for the team.

“In defeat, we took a lot from that game which has helped us to grow and find our identity within our team,” he declared.

“They really came out and handled their business and congratulations to Leicester for that.

“It helped show our weaknesses and what we needed to improve on, but I feel the team is really starting to mesh and come together well now.”

There has been extra responsibility in recent weeks in the absence of captain Pavol Losonsky, and Blackwell is ready to continue logging the heavy minutes required for his side.

“Injuries are a part of the game, unfortunately, so we have to deal with them accordingly. Playing big minutes is fine by me – I know that overall body conditioning is important over the course of a long season, so I just have to stay on top of that.

“I believe I’m adjusting and getting better each week. I haven’t put together a full game where I feel I have done everything I wanted to do, but I want to stay consistent with my effort, focus and attention to detail.

“Even though we have a cup game this week, our focus has to be the same. The attention to detail raises because the stakes are higher, but the importance is the same.”

In the BBL Championship, Leeds Force return to action with a double-header as they host Plymouth University Raiders tonight before making the trip to Cheshire Phoenix on Sunday.

CaptureLouis Sayers made the switch from Plymouth to Leeds in the summer after two years with the Raiders, and he’s looking forward to taking on his former side.

“I think there’s always that added motivation when you play your old team, but whatever needs to be done to get the win is the only important thing,” he insisted.

Sayers is enjoying a new lease of life with Leeds, but admits his new side must improve as they currently sit in 11th place in the BBL Championship with a 2-6 record.

“I definitely think we have to do better – there have been some games that we should’ve been in a position to win and we weren’t so that’s been disappointing.

“We’re definitely past the phase of getting to know each other. We are playing more as a unit now that we’re familiar with each others instincts.

“We have to be more consistent on the defensive end and get more stops which allow us to reap the benefits on the offensive end.

“For me, I feel I’m playing with a lot of confidence this year. It’s not only coming from myself but also from the confidence my team-mates and coaches have in me.”

Elsewhere, Bristol Flyers host Glasgow Rocks tomorrow, before they travel to Guildford on Sundaylooking to avenge an opening defeat to Surrey Scorchers.

The Rocks are also back in action on Sunday when they take on Daryl Corletto’s Raiders at the Pavilions.

By admin