Basketball: Team ethic is key for Leeds Force says ace Hall

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Sheffielder Will Hall says he wants to get more of his team-mates involved under the basket as Leeds Force head coach Matt Newby plots a course to the top eight.

It is a sign of the growing sense of belonging at the BBL rookies that they go into tonight’s Yorkshire series decider with Sheffield Sharks on a neutral floor in Huddersfield, confident of causing an upset and winning the three-game battle for bragging rights.

Will Hall looks to shoot for Leeds Force.

Will Hall looks to shoot for Leeds Force.

If they are to secure a second shock win over their much-vaunted rivals, then they will need their 23-year-old former Great Britain Under-20s forward Hall to be at his very best again.

Hall led the team in last Friday’s defeat to Cheshire Phoenix with 23 points and 15 rebounds. He is averaging 15 points a game, in what is his first taste of the elite level.

But Hall is as much at home sharing the wealth than he is hogging the limelight.

“I’m happy to score but I’m eager to get everyone involved as well,” said Hall.

“I grew up playing in basketball in Sheffield, it’s a good club system down there where it was all very team orientated, so that’s what I’ve grown up playing.”

Had things been different, Hall could have been playing for the Sharks.

But his route to the BBL has been a circuitous one, taking in a year on a scholarship at a prep school in Western Massachussets, a spell with Reading Rockets and a year playing in the third division while he concentrated on his studies.

But having grown up in the Steel City and learnt the game with the junior programme of what has for a long-time been Yorkshire’s only top-flight club, the date with Sheffield is always one he relishes. “The games we’ve had with Sheffield have been great fun,” said Hall, of a series that was levelled when Leeds won at the English Institute of Sport last month and will be decided at the University of Huddersfield tonight (7.30).

“It’s a big one for both of us and we’ll each be going out to win it.

“It will be great if we could do it, especially in our first year.”

Whether they win or lose tonight, head coach Newby is not giving up on a top-eight finish and the end-of-season play-offs.

Force are currently 12th in the 13-team league, three wins adrift of eighth place with 14 fixtures remaining.

Newby added: “Ultimately we have got to focus on the teams placed between fifth and 13th.

“I’d like to think if we could take the two games against Manchester, the one against Surrey, the two against Bristol – who are in a state of flux after a good start – then there is an opportunity to get in the eight.”

Leeds Force coach Matt Newby has his work cut out in the coming off-season following his side's hefty last-day defeat to Cheshire Phoenix.

Cheshire Phoenix 128 Leeds Force 77: Force go out with whimper as red-hot Phoenix party