Basketball: Leeds Force show further improvement despite defeat insists Hylands

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Leeds Force’s tough baptism to life in the BBL continued with a 66-48 defeat at Cheshire Phoenix but forward Oliver Hylands believes the rookies are improving.

The winless Force slipped to a third straight defeat across the Pennines last night after a slow start saw them trail 33-20 at the interval.

But Matt Newby’s side came out fast in the third quarter, winning that 10-minute period 
16-12 to pull to within nine points, before the experienced Phoenix ran away with it in the final quarter.

Zak Wells and Darrell Bethune top-scored for the Force with 14 points.

Hylands, who added two points, said: “It was a much-improved performance today. We had a rough start to the game and then clawed it back.

“We just didn’t quite have enough in the end. In the three games we’ve played we’ve shown improvement. But we have either started slowly or finished much weaker than our opponents.

“At times we just run out of steam. It’s definitely a depth issue.

“We’ve got three players to come back; Patrick Nyeko, our American point guard James McCann and Will Hall, a British Under-20s player.

“So hopefully we’ll improve over the coming weeks.”

British forward Nyeko was the star of last Friday’s inaugural home defeat to Glasgow Rocks, and is due to be on the sidelines for at least a week with a strained knee.

Hylands has been with Leeds for much of their eight-year existence, and combines his playing duties with an operations position in the organisation.

As one of four survivors from the club’s not-so recent National League days, he has witnessed first hand the change in standards.

“It’s a tough step up,” he said. “It’s a lot more physical in this league.

“In the national leagues you can get away with lapse periods. Not in the BBL. Teams quickly find your weaknesses and they expose them.

“So it’s been tough, but we’re definitely getting there.”

Andrew Hambleton.

Andrew Hambleton joins Leeds Force ahead of new season