Friday 3 October 2008
CH 7:30pm Sheffield Sharks v Everton Tigers
Two clubs with new coaches meet at the EIS in Sheffield on Friday evening as the home-town Sharks take on Everton Tigers in both teams opening BBL Championship fixture of the season.
Sharks Atiba Lyons (198-F-82, college: Pace) has stepped up to player coach over the summer, and he is excited about the challenge ahead: I said goodbye to free time in July that was the first adjustment. I also said goodbye to stress free and care free days off. But seriously I am always watching tape and analyzing our team to see where we can improve and making us better. Trying to do that and keep my aggressiveness as a player and stop myself from watching plays develop and get into the action.
Lyons is pleased with how his side have looked during the pre-season period: It was a good pre-season. It took a little longer to get all our guys in together but we got a lot of work done once they were in. It is looking good and a lot of positives to build from. The guys have come together well on and off the court. I have been lucky in that respect. Our ambitions are to finish in the top four and secure a trophy.
The Sharks coach is expecting a tough test against Tigers: I have heard they have a very talented and deep team. I know they have some good veterans combined with some good young players. I think if we can follow our game plan and play solid defence for four quarters it will be a highly competitive game.
For Tigers coach Tony Garbelotto its been a long summer as hes helped Great Britain qualify for Eurobasket 2009, but he is happy with how his brief pre-season with Everton has gone: Weve just come back from a week in Belgium, which has been really beneficial for the team. We played Mons on Thursday, a Dutch team on Saturday and Antwerp on Sunday. We lost the games against the Belgian sides and beat the Dutch by nine, but I was pleased with how we played in all of the games. We made Antwerp keep their starters on the floor in the fourth period, and I was pretty content with our performance.
We really learned a lot about each other, and what we have to do to get better. Weve got all of our players in, but well definitely be looking to make some additions, and were looking at different ways to improve the squad.
Garbelotto knows it will be a difficult opening game for his new team: My assistant watched their pre-season game against Cheshire, and we have some tape from that game. They look like they are a deep team, and although we didnt see the kid from Syracuse, it seems theyve upgraded in athleticism and ability. Theyve got a pretty good nucleus of a team, and playing against some top Spanish teams pre-season will have helped them.
Sharks have the better of the three meetings between the teams last season, taking the series 2-1. Evertons only win in three games when the teams met in the steel city in mid-December as they ran out narrow 81-77 winners. Sharks gained revenge with a 93-87 victory on Merseyside in January before recording a resounding 104-81 victory in March.
Saturday 4 October 2008
CH 7:00pm Guildford Heat v Milton Keynes Lions
One of the developing rivalries in British basketball continues on Saturday as Guildford Heat host Marshall MK Lions. The teams have already met twice this season in the BBL Cup Winners Cup, with Heat winning their home leg 91-89 before retaining the trophy with a 68-60 victory at Blecthley a fortnight ago.
Saturdays game is a repeat of the Championship final, which saw Heat become the first team to score 100 in the final as they ran out 100-88 victors. Danny Gilbert led the Heat scoring with 27, and captain Mike Martin added 25, while Lions skipper Dru Spinks led by example with 22 points.
That victory was revenge for the BBL Cup semi-final which saw 26 Yorick Williams points help Lions to a 91-80 victory. Tony Dorsey finished with 20 for the Heat, but they were unable to prevent the Lions moving towards the first piece of silverware in franchise history. Two of the three BBL Championship meetings between the sides were at Milton Keynes, but that didnt prevent the Heat recording a sweep against Vince Macauleys team.
Heat coach Paul James knows what to expect when his side face the Lions: I expect a very physical and tough game against the lions. They have good players in every area who can be game winners. Yorick [Williams] , Terrell [Brown] and [Tommie] Eddie have all started the season well so we will need to control their input as much as possible.
The Lions play-caller is expecting a tough game when his team make their second trip of the season to the Spectrum: It will be a tough game at the Heat, there are a lot of proud people in that organisation and they do things the way they should be one. Mike Martin is always the key for the Heat and we expect that by now the new Import players would have caught up to speed with the game over here and look to make strong contributions.
Although Lions lost the championship game against Heat last season, Macauley doesnt consider Saturdays match-up to be a revenge mission: Last year has nothing to do with this year so we are not exacting revenge for anything that might have happened then. The Cup Winners Cup was a pre-season tournament that really is designed to get teams ready for the season. As far as I'm concerned this is the first meaningful game between us, it will be a tough encounter and I expect the Heat to be there or thereabouts.
CH 7:30pm Leicester Riders v Cheshire Jets
New Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders coach Rob Paternostro is expecting a tough test when his side host BiG Storage Cheshire Jets at the John Sandford Sports Centre on Saturday evening.
Paternostro watched the Jets demolish Worcester 135-103 on Sunday, and was impressed with what he saw: The Jets are a deep team and I thought that their guards played really well against Wolves. I thought Alto Virgil did a nice job of pushing the basketball, and Chez Marks scored in many different ways. When you add Shawn Myers, James Hamilton and Calvin Davis, you have three guys who know how to get it done in this league.
We are really looking forward to the game, we had a good crowd last week and the fans were great. We are hoping that there is a nice buzz in there on Saturday night.
Riders opened their BBL Championship campaign with a 73-56 victory against PAWS London Capital on Saturday, and Paternostro had mixed feelings about the game:
I thought we had a great first quarter against the Capitals and put the game out of reach early at 30-8. But I thought that we struggled offensively after that. After the firs tquarter It was an ugly game and i was hoping it would have been more free flowing, but a win is a win and we will take it.
Youre not going to play well offensively all the time, so we need to make sure our defensive intensity is consistent and I thought we played pretty well at the defensive end. We had a couple guys step up on the boards. Phil Missere was hustling all over the court, he had 15 rebounds and Lataryl Williams played good defence and had 11 rebounds.
All the BBL Championship games between the teams resulted in away wins last season. The first meeting came in mid-November when Jets returned from the John Sandford Sports Centre with a 93-86 victory, but Riders leveled the series in December with a 93-80 victory before sealing things 104-97 overtime win in April. The teams also met twice in the BBL Trophy, and it was Cheshire who won both games to progress to the semi-finals 96-91 on Riders court and 86-71 at home.
Jets coach Paul Smith knows his side will have to play well to repeat those wins in the midlands: Leicester will be a very tough game particularly on their court. They are a quick athletic team with some good BBL vets combined with some exciting new talent. I was particularly impressed with Swanson in their game against London but they have lots of threats.
CH 7:30pm London Capitals v Plymouth Raiders
PAWS London Capital will be looking for their first BBL Championship victory against Airwave Plymouth Raiders when the pair meet on Saturday evening.
Raiders recorded a clean sweep of BBL Championship victories against Capital last season, winning 79-62 at Capital City Academy in October before recording a narrow 73-71 away victory the following month. The sweep was wrapped up with an 83-60 victory in the West Country in December, but Capital gained revenge in early November with a shock 83-74 victory in Plymouth as they knocked the Raiders out of the BBL Cup at the first hurdle.
Plymouth coach Gary Stronach admits that he is unsure of what his side will face when they travel to the capital on Saturday: I really don't know too much about Capital at the moment, but hopefully I will be able to find out more as the week progresses. I know its a tough place to play and in people like Marcus Knight, Ibrahim Gariba et al they have established BBL players.
The new-look Capital side opened their season with a pair of defeats against Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders and Marshall MK Lions last week, leaving rookie coach Milek Jivens with mixed emotions:
I was happy to get my first game out of the way. The team were a bit nervous and we didnt execute as well as Id hoped. We needed to play a bit harder and a bit smarter.
Its a different team from last year. I was around the team behind the scenes last season, but weve come together late this year after Steve [Bucknall] decided to leave. Ive had to step up, but I knew some of the players, and Im looking forward to the challenge. Theres going to be stress, and hopefully theres going to be some happiness. But its not how we start, its how we finish.
We played a lot better against Milton Keynes. We had a lapse in the second period, but we picked it up before we lost focus in the third period and let them take the game away from us.
Jivens is hoping to get some information about Raiders during the week: I didnt have the chance to see them at Worthing as we were playing, but Im hoping to get some scouting reports this week and see how they played against Thunder.
CH 7:00pm Worcester Wolves v Scottish Rocks
Worcester Wolves coach Skouson Harker is hoping that he will have a full squad to choose from them his side play their first home game of the season on Saturday evening.
Wolves went down 135-103 at BiG Storage Cheshire Jets on Sunday, but Harker expects a better display on Saturday evening: It was a great experience for us in Chester. We were two possible starters short, and any team in the BBL without a starting point guard would struggle against Chesters speed. They are a new side, but I will say it will be very different next time we meet. They had no answer for Justin [Brown] and with Will [Funn] in the line-up he will be even more dominant. We are a very good team, and we can learn from our first game.
We started a young kid with no BBL experience and played an 18 year old kid for 30 plus minutes, he did a very good job in his first BBL game. Chester was red hot, and being worn thin, any team in the BBL struggles when key guys have to log 38 plus minutes.
Harker is expecting a tough game against the Rocks: They have good overall size and Rob Yanders will lead from the point as always. We expect a very competitive encounter.
The Glasgow club won two of the three games between the teams last season, starting with a 112-71 victory in October. Rocks sealed the series with a 98-82 win the following month, but Wolves gained some measure of revenge in March with a 108-92 success.
Rocks player-coach Sterling Davis is looking forward to his sides opening BBL Championship game of the season: Right now what I know about the Wolves is that they will be a fast paced team with a good inside presence. We have to make sure and slow them down as much as possible and its also key to keep them off the boards.
CH 7:00pm Worthing Thunder v Newcastle Eagles
BBL newboys Worthing Thunder will be looking for their first victory in the competition on Saturday when they host reigning league champions Newcastle Eagles.
The teams had contrasting results last weekend, with Thunders BBL debut against Airwaves Plymouth Raiders ending in defeat, while Eagles won the battle of last seasons top two by beating Guildford Heat.
Thunder coach Gary Smith admitted it had been a difficult opening game for his team: Saturday was a tough baptism against Plymouth, they've been together a lot longer than we have, and already managed to have 30 training sessions together before the season started. We haven't even had one with a full squad yet! I thought our guys gave as good as they got for large periods on Saturday and the commitment shown was fantastic, players diving around everywhere, scrapping for every ball.
Colby Bargeman has flown in this week so the squad is complete, except perhaps for another big man to help out Lijah [Perkins] and Janis (Ivanovskis) under the boards, but we'll see if we need him after Lijah gave me 12 points and 12 boarda on Saturday.
Smith is aware that his side will face another difficult evening when they host the Eagles: Newcastle will be difficult to break down, they can almost put two fives on the floor that would be competitive in this league. The likes of Fab Flournoy, Trey Moore, Lynard Stewart and Charles Smith have been stars in this league for some time, and then they just add Dru Sullivan on the eve of the season. He is a great pickup and it is great for British basketball that he is back in the BBL, I just wish he wasn't playing against us!
We will not be overawed though, we have a lot of talent in our team, so we have nothing to fear stepping on that court, particularly at home. As long as we go out and play with intensity for 40 minutes then that is all I can ask, nd let's see what happens.
Eagles coach Fab Flournoy is taking nothing for granted despite the fact that his team travel to the south coast as clear favourites: Every time we match up with a new team is a worry for me. I think our record will show from previous seasons that we have lost games at times where we have been working teams out. No game is a 'gimme' in this league and this one won't be any different
The Newcastle player-coach has some idea of what his side will face on Saturday: They are clearly a new group coming together, but we are aware of a number of the players from their past in the BBL and in touring teams, we have played against like Ryan Patton, Dan Midgeley, Lijah Perkins and Pat Bates before.
Flournoys team made a successful start to their defence of the league championship with a win against Guildford Heat last week, leaving the Eagles coach moderately satisfied: We had a great start and lost our way a little bit in phases, which we tend to expect in our first games. I wasn't disappointed overall and I am happy with everyone's contribution and positive mentality right now. Both teams got solid contributions from their British contingent and for us it was great to see a very solid performance from Andrew Bridge. He had a bad end to last season and I'm sure that this game would have helped him get back on track, especially after coming back from a big operation this summer.
The signing of Andrew Sullivan in build up to the game provided a big boost for the Eagles: This team is in the early stages of gelling and I have to treat players on a level footing. Everyone knows that game time comes from what happens in training in the week. It was the same seven years ago when I started out and its still the same today. We all know Andrew is a special talent and he knows himself that everyone will get game time on their own merits. We are deeper than we have ever been since I started here so that does an another dimension for me to deal with but I'm ready for that.
Sunday 5 October 2008
CH 5:30pm Cheshire Jets v Guildford Heat
BiG Storage Cheshire Jets will be looking to carry their form from their last home game into Sundays BBL Championship game against Guildford Heat. Jets bounced back from an opening night loss at Marshall MK Lions to hammer a short-handed Worcester Wolves team 135-103 at Northgate Arena.
We were very inconsistent against Lions said coach Paul Smith. We started well at both ends of the floor, had a terrible second quarter, came back in the third and lost defensive focus in the fourth. It was very disappointing but has helped focus our minds on what we need to work on.
Offensively we had a very good night against Wolves but defensively we were far too inconsistent again. Wolves were a little short handed and they will be a different proposition when we meet again. We had our running game working a lot better in the second game, but defensively we have identified lots we need to work on in both games.
Smith expects Heat to provide a stern test for his team: Heat to be very well drilled and coached at both ends of the floor. They have lots of new players but I saw them play well against Lions and they pushed a very talented Eagles team all the way on their home court. I'm a big fan of Mike Martins game, he leads by example, and I'm sure he has been crucial in helping the new guys settle in.
Heat coach Paul James isnt expecting things to be easy when his side travel to the north west: I have not seen the Jets play this season but I know that any team with calibre players like Shawn Myers, Chez Marks and Calvin Davis in their line-up, will cause you a lot of problems.
Guildford lost their opening fixture of the season at Newcastle last week, and James was a disappointed man: Im not overly unhappy with the lose as this was always going to be a very difficult game first time up with this new group of players. Hopefully now they realise that we can compete with the best in the league. The disappointing thing was that even though we only lost by five it could have been so different had we not turned the ball over 27 times and missed ten foul shots, but we can only get better from here on in!
Heats scoring was led by James three new signings, and he was pleased with that fact: I am very pleased with the way the new players performed and once Mike [Martin] is fully over his illness back to full strength and Chad [McKnight] starts to deliver what I expect from him, we will be a very competitive team.
CH 4:00pm Plymouth Raiders v Scottish Rocks
Raiders coach Gary Stronach is expecting a tough test when the sides furthest apart in the BBL make their trip to Plymouth Pavilions: Rocks are well drilled and coached with a number of outstanding players in Davis, Yanders and Shelton they move the ball really well at the offensive end and we will certainly need to step up our defensive intensity from last week.
Stronach was pleased with his sides 104-80 victory against Worthing Thunder on Saturday: I felt we played well in patches. Defensively we had a good second and third quarter. Its always good to start off your campaign with a win.
It was good to see seven players in double figures we had great intensity off the bench. It was a team victory, I was particularly pleased with Gall, Love and Beckles contributions.
Rocks player-coach Sterling Davis is pleased with how their pre-season has panned out, and is raring to go as they open their season this weekend: The pre-season has gone pretty good so far with us. We have quite a few new faces so it has taken a little longer this time around to get everyone on the same page but its coming along ok.
Everyone is fitting in just fine. We are just learning about each others likes and dislikes are on the floor which is necessary for any team to figure out when youre all new.
As far as the Raiders, they have the same nucleus as last year which is great for them. Gary has done a great job of keeping his core there and its definitely paid off for them over the years. They will be another strong team in the paint so we will definitely have to be ready to defend the block.
Raiders recorded a clean sweep of victories in the three BBL Championship games between the two sides last season but all of the match-ups proved to be tight affairs with the biggest margin being five points. The opening meeting in the West Country saw Plymouth win 74-69 in October, and they repeated the victory with an 83-79 home success in February. The series sweep was completed in April when a 26-11 final stanza saw Raiders win 76-71 in Glasgow.