Four teams enter the weekend boasting a perfect Championship record but for at least one club their perfect start will come to an end on Saturday afternoon.
Leicester Community Sports Arena will host the weekend’s opening proceedings as Leicester Riders welcome Caledonia Pride, both teams full of confidence having won their only contest of the season.
This time last year there was a distinctly different feeling surrounding the matchup, Riders easing past the then league newcomers by 50 points. But after a strong finish to last season and a statement win to open the 2017-18 campaign, no one is underestimating the danger posed by Caledonia Pride.
“It’s great to see the WBBL becoming more competitive,” declared Riders guard Dee Hayward.
“There are no easy games in this league. A consistent, professional mindset is always required.
“Despite everything we achieved last year, we lacked experience in the big moments. We learnt a lot, however, and by retaining a large portion of the roster we’re definitely in a stronger position this time around.
“We already know each other’s tendencies and how to play together: it feels like we’ve picked up where we left off last season!
“Yet, we know moving forward we have to continue to work hard, remain together and stick to the principles that have worked for us. We can’t take anything for granted,” concluded the Scottish international.
Leicester forward Mollie Campbell is certainly not relying on previous results as an accurate predictor of future success.
“Our first performance of the season was definitely a solid start but we still have a few things that need to be ironed out,” said Campbell.
“The league is a lot stronger this year and our mindset must remain the same for every game, regardless of who we face. We have to play hard and to the best of our abilities week in, week out. If not, we can’t expect to take away a positive result.”
The bulk of the weekend’s fixtures will come tomorrow. Leicester Riders and Caledonia Pride tip off the action, before Sevenoaks Suns travel to Oaklands Wolves hoping to keep their own unbeaten streak alive.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Manchester Mystics will look to return to winning ways against Durham Palantinates as the league newcomers visit the National Basketball Performance Centre.
Finally, Cardiff Met Archers and Nottingham Wildcats will end the day’s basketball in Cardiff at Archers Arena. Both teams will be keen to put in an eye-catching performance having tasted defeat in their last outing.
Sunday sees a change of pace with just one fixture being played. Team Northumbria will host Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters looking to end the road team’s unbeaten run, having themselves suffered overtime heartbreak at the hands of Sevenoaks last weekend.
WBBL Fixtures Saturday
Leicester Riders v Caledonia Pride 1:30pm
Wolves v Suns 3:45pm
Mystics v Palatinates 4:00pm
Archers v Wildcats 4:30pm
WBBL Fixtures Sunday
Northumbria v Hatters 4:00pm
The first weekend of the new season is in the books and we have another seven games taking place in Round 2.
It was an opening night to forget for Leeds Force as they fell to a crushing 60-148 defeat at home to Esh Group Eagles Newcastle.
Head coach Danny Nelson has bolstered his options with the addition of Michel-Ofik Nzege, while American forward Tavarion Nix is available to make his debut and can’t wait to get started.
“I’m excited to play my first game in the BBL,” he enthused.
“I’ve heard a lot of good things about the league and the level of play.
“I’ve had the chance to see one of the top teams first hand and I’m ready to compete.
“Personally, I feel I will bring more leadership and experience to the team as well as adding a lot of versatility and athleticism to our squad.”
Force have a double-header on the road to contend with this weekend as they face DBL Sharks Sheffield in the Yorkshire derby tonight before heading to Plymouth Raiders on Sunday – streamed live for free on UniLAD’s Facebook page.
Nix added: “Road games are always tough no matter where you play, but our focus for the double header this weekend is taking it one game at a time.
“We want to focus on what we do as a team and play the style of basketball that we want to play.”
Two teams who made winning starts to the season meet tonight as Leicester Riders host Bristol Flyers having never lost to Andreas Kapoulas’ side in the BBL.
Meanwhile, Esh Group Eagles Newcastle take a 20-game win streak over Glasgow Rocks into their clash at Sport Central with the 2-0 London Lions entertaining Manchester Giants to round out another four-game Friday.
Also on Sunday, Cheshire Phoenix get their campaign started with Surrey Scorchers the visitors for their third straight road game having opened 1-1 last weekend.
Manchester and Newcastle are back in action as they go head-to-head at Trafford Sportsdome on Sunday afternoon to complete their respective double-headers.
Every BBL league game is available LIVE over at livebasketball.tv via subscription.
After lifting silverware at the O2 last week and a convincing win in Worcester on Friday night, it was back to the Copper Box on Sunday night for the London Lions.
And it was a return that more than lived up to expectations, with the home side taking a 93-78 win in a game that had so many good plays it would leave the highlight reel bursting as the large London crowd went home smiling.
The Lions started the game strongly, quickly building a 7 point lead largely thanks to impressive work between new star signing Justin Robinson and Momcilo Latinovic.
As former Lion Alex Owumi helped the visitors from downtown, Brandon Peel was right back at it, rescuing an errant shot to build the lead back up to 5. Fan favourite Joe Ikhinmwin was hot from behind the line as the lead started climbing again.
But the Scorchers weren’t going to lie down. They kept fighting, but were frustrated by a strong Lions defence. The first quarter ended 27-19.
The Lions came into the second quarter determined and the depth and quality of the roster gave the Scorchers headache after headache. True the Lions defence wasn’t consistently strong, but whenever the visitors tried to come back, it was always answered emphatically.
As the clock ticked towards half time you sensed Surrey were desperately throwing everything at preventing the game being over by half time.
The Lions however were having fun, and at the end of the half the score (48-31) betrayed the fact that Surrey seemed deflated and there appeared no way back.
Other teams might have settled for a 17 point lead, but one of the impressive things about this side is the sheer effort that each member of the team puts in.
Play after play, beautiful shot after beautiful shot went in, with equal amounts of hard work on the defensive end, led to the lead ballooning to 62-36 with 6.08 left in the third.
There was still or no rest for a Surrey team who looked as if they were totally beaten.
The quarter ended with the Lions cruising comfortably at 75-48.
The fourth quarter didn’t live up to the previous three for the Lions. The side’s frustration with the officiating boiled over, a foulshot count of 32 to the visitors and a mere 10 to the home side when they were the ones who led by as many as 30 points were compounded with repeated technical fouls being issued. This culminated in bizarre scenes as the Lions coach was ejected from the game for his second technical foul.
But despite a deflating end, nothing could take away from the players who seemed to be really enjoying playing with each other in a team that has serious amounts of promise.
Next up for the Lions are the Manchester Giants on Friday 6 October, tip at 7.30pm. Tickets available at ticketmaster.co.uk
Lions Scorers; Flannigan 19, Robinson 15, Latinovic 13, Peel 11, Lockhart 9, Hall 7, Ikhinmwin 7, Lanegger 5, Isenbarger 5, Guede 2, Roberts, James.
Scorchers Scorers; Ogedengbe 18, Owumi 16, Robinson 13.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
London Lions – firstname.lastname@example.org
London Lions Official Website – www.londonlionsbasketball.com
It is with great pleasure that British Basketball can confirm that Tony Garbelotto is to become Head Coach of its Senior Men’s team.
The 48 year-old is the first British-born head coach of the GB men’s team in the modern era, having been previously Assistant to Chris Finch in the build-up to London 2012. He will succeed Joe Prunty in time for the autumn’s FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifiers against Greece and Estonia.
He is best remembered in this country for leading Mersey Tigers to all three domestic trophies in 2011 including the BBL title with an all-British roster, but has also coached in Europe and in Asia.
Garbelotto will combine his duties for the national team with those of BBL team Glasgow Rocks, as well as for Scotland at April’s Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Tony Garbelotto said, “For me, it was the right time to come back to the UK for all types of personal reasons. It’s definitely a great situation to be in. Obviously, I’d been in Asia for the last three years and in Germany prior to that and there was this unique set of circumstances that came together.”
“It’s an interesting time for British Basketball as there seem to be a lot of things happening and there’s an incredible group of young players coming through.”
Coach Garbelotto paid tribute to his predecessor Joe Prunty, “We’re all extremely proud of the way this group has developed and I think Joe has done an incredible job of fusing those young players with the older players.”
“You can see the discipline that this team plays with and I think we can be thankful that we’ve worked with such a high-level coach who took this group forward, after Coach Finch left the programme. Credit to Joe for what he has done over the last four years.”
The Englishman is intrigued to see what happens over the next few years.
“We should be excited about our prospects going forward. Some players are very young, especially those players involved in the junior teams this summer but more importantly, the core of this team are at the stage where they can only get better.”
“I’ve been involved in the Great Britain programme since its inception and I don’t believe that even before London 2012, we truly got the fusion of young and mature players at the right stage. They are a really tight group and if we can add players to this group for the World Cup qualifiers, we can be excited about the possibilities where this team can take us.”
British Basketball Performance Director Mark Clark says, “First of all, I’d like to thank Joe Prunty for everything he has done for the programme since he arrived in 2013.”
“Joe has left the programme in a healthy state, with young players such as Gabe Olaseni having had a first taste of major tournament play and showing they can perform at this level.”
“I’ve known Tony for some time and he is a very talented coach with a deep knowledge of the international game and I’m looking forward to working with him.”
Glasgow Rocks owner Duncan Smilie said: “It is a great honour that The Glasgow Rocks head coach has been named as the new Head Coach of Great Britain. We’re more than comfortable Tony will be able to fulfil his duties in full at The Rocks as the reality is the GB role has a minimal impact on our BBL season.”
“The appointment of Tony is just reward for his achievements at home and abroad over the years in the game he cares so much about.”
“Great Britain will be all the better for his appointment and the Rocks will benefit greatly from it.”
The Betway British Basketball All-Stars Championship will put BBL teams on a global stage with live coverage on networks spanning over 100 countries when it tips off at The O2, London this Sunday, September 24.
The inaugural Championship will be broadcast live throughout on Sky Sports Arena in the UK and Ireland, with coverage in America on Eleven Sports Network.
Betway British Basketball All-Stars Championship Live TV Broadcasters:
Sky Sports (UK)
Kwese Sports (Sub-Saharan Africa)
Viasat (Scandinavia and Baltic States)
Eleven Sports Network (USA)
DAZN (Germany, Austria)
Fox Sports (Australia)
Sky (New Zealand)
Fox Sports (Italy, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Malta)
OSN (Middle East and North Africa)
The British Basketball All-Stars Championship introduces some exciting new innovations as the top eight BBL teams compete for a record-breaking £100,000 prize fund. Matches are just 12 minutes long with a 20-second shot clock while an all-Star 5-point line offers rewards for those willing to brave a shot from distance. Teams will also have a two-minute Power Play at their disposal, during which any pointes will be doubled.
The tournament commences at 1pm (UK time) with a double elimination group stage comprising a total of ten matches, with the subsequent six fixtures determined by the outcome of the first four. Two straight wins will qualify a team for the semi-finals while two straight defeats will spell elimination. The ﬁnal set of matches in the group will feature teams with one win and one defeat competing to stay in the competition. Fixtures for the semi-finals will be drawn shortly after the conclusion of the group stage.
Tickets for the British Basketball All-Stars Championship are available now from www.theo2.co.ukand start from just £20 with group tickets available priced from £60 for four adults. A 20% discount is offered for group bookings of 20+. VIP Courtside tickets are available for £150 via www.allstarsbasketball.co.uk