The Saturday BBL Preview: 14th December 2013

Leicester Riders found out who their opponents for the BBL Cup Final will be on Friday night, but Saturday sees their focus drawn back to the bread-and-butter of the BBL Championship as they welcome London Lions, whilst Birmingham Knights seek their first W of the campaign.

Lions @ Riders (7:30pm tip-off)

It’s fourth versus fifth in the BBL Championship, and two sides with big benches which could be the key to who comes out on top in this clash.

Both Leicester and London’s league positions fail to illustrate just how close they actually sit from the leading the championship chase due to their games in hand, which is why it is vital tonight to come out with the win for either team.

Another major factor to note in for both sides is their magnificent home records – each losing just one league game at home this season; going off that alone would suggest Riders have the advantage in this head-to-head with the two home games on their side.

Speaking to the Leicester Mercury, Rob Paternostro is aware of just how dangerous Vince Macaulay’s Lions will be: “I’ve seen them a few times and each time I’ve been impressed with how they’ve played.

“They’re athletic, they run the floor well and they’ve been able to mix and match a bunch of players, and a lot of guys have given them different contributions.

“There doesn’t seem to be a pattern with it, each game seems to be different because they get different minutes, so you have to be aware of each guy on the team sheet.”

Raiders @ Knights (7:30pm tip-off)

Birmingham Knights have yet to find that first win of their existence, but the 7-6 Plymouth Raiders could prove to be one of their best chances in the month of December.

However, for head coach Paul Douglas, he spoke this week of how he feels it is more than just what is being played out on court; but that conviction and confidence to win is a factor involved.

“We have a habit of not dealing with teams’ runs in the second half, which is something we will be addressing again in training,” said Douglas to the official BBL website.

“I really think it’s just a belief thing with some of the players. Once we get over that, we will be in the game well into the fourth quarter and that’s when anything can happen.”

A defeat would take the Second City side to a 0-11 record, whilst keeping Plymouth close to the tails of the leading pack of the BBL Championship.

Last night saw the second finalist of the BBL Cup decided as Newcastle Eagles stormed to a second leg victory 84-57 victory (163-139 on aggregate) over Sheffield Sharks.

Darius Defoe, Scott Martin and Malik Cooke tore the Sharks apart midway through the game and gave the home side control. Paul Gause for the Eagles led all-scorers with a haul of 20 points, 6 steals and 6 assists.

Whilst in the only BBL Championship fixture, Kai Williams made a return for the Worcester Wolves on their way to a third consecutive victory and subjected Surrey United to a 38-point second quarter tally to effectively kill off the game (eventually running out 101-79 winners).

Andreas Schreiber and Stefan Djukic both produced double-double statlines, with Alex Owumi top-scoring for Worcester with 20 points – equal game-high with United’s Brandon McGill.

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