Leeds Force face two of their toughest assignments back-to-back this weekend, buoyed by the positives that emerged from an opening-night defeat last weekend and their experience of going toe-to-toe with the best in British basketball in their debut season.
The second-year BBL team pushed Cheshire Phoenix to the brink last Friday night before the experienced outfit pulled clear in the closing quarter.
Tonight the Force head to the capital to face the London Lions in the Copper Box arena before heading to the north east 48 hours later to meet the defending BBL champions Newcastle Eagles.
Such a daunting road trip might be written off as damage limitation by some, but Force can point to a surprise victory in the Olympic handball arena against the Lions last year and a strong showing against the already-crowned champions, Newcastle, at the end of the season.
“Last season we took both teams to overtime, capturing a win in the capital at the Copper Box arena and almost coming out on top at the Eagles’ nest, Sports Central, at the close of 2014-15 season, so we go there with a lot of heart and belief,” said American Ricky Fetske, who is back for a second season with the Leeds club.
“We also head out on the road with a lot of confidence gained from our opening performance.
“Many positives came from the game including many commendable individual performances.
“Seven-footer Zak Wells was effective early and often for the Force, imposing his will inside. Local boy Rob Marsden provided a spark off the bench by contributing in a variety of ways even though he was carrying an injury to his ankle.
“Point guard Dwayne Camille impressed, playing with immense confidence and scoring at will from the outside before knocking down five triples.
“We missed captain Armand Anebo to injury and his leadership was very much missed on the defensive end of the floor.
“With Daniel Evans’s departure on a scholarship to the USA, it has been nice to see three other members of the Allerton High School ‘Force Academy’ given an opportunity to play for the senior men’s program last week.
“James Banton accrued 20 minutes at the point guard position at the tender age of 17, while Josh Gill also made his debut.
“So overall the mood is good and despite a tough loss last weekend everybody is in the right frame of mind.”
Fetske will be writing a weekly column in the Yorkshire Evening Post from next week.