Force vow to take the campaign to the wire

Matt Newby.
Matt Newby.
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Leeds Force face a weekend of destiny as they look to seal a place in the British Basketball League play-offs in only their second season among the elite.

Matt Newby’s side have won seven of their last eight home games and their last two fixtures as they look to gatecrash the top eight and contest the right to challenge for the play-off trophy.

They need two wins from their final two games this weekend to have any chance of sealing the deal.

Tomorrow night (7.30pm) they welcome bottom-club Manchester Giants, who they have already beaten twice.

Then on Sunday they visit second-bottom Surrey Scorchers in what they hope is a win-and-in scenario for their play-off ambitions.

To aid their bid to reach the post-season – which will be played as a quarter-final over two legs next weekend – ninth-placed Leeds also need eighth-placed Plymouth to lose one of their final two games.

But in the form they are in, particularly on their home court at Leeds Beckett University, Force are confident they can win a third game in a row tomorrow night and take their challenge down to the wire.

“The home form has been outstanding,” said director of professional basketball Newby, who hailed last week’s 81-78 win over title contenders Leicester Riders as the best result in his 10 years with the programme.

“That’s seven wins in the last eight now, which is great.

“We have established ourselves as a hard team to beat on our home court. It means that people are no longer taking us lightly, they know they have to come to play which in turn means we have to step up our game. One thing we’ve done at home is we’ve been as physical as we needed to be and as smart as we have needed to be.

“We’ve also been flexible which means we have become more adept at making slight adjustments in real time on the floor.”

That was in evidence last Friday night against Leicester Riders when, led by the 15 points of Marek Klassen, they inflicted upon the established BBL team only a third defeat of the regular season.

“It was a great result, probably the best we’ve had in my tenure,” said Newby, whose time with the club goes back to their days as a fledgling university programme in 2006.

“We did a great coaching job and I was really pleased.

“The boys were amazing in their application and their effort.

“We managed to execute against the best defence in the league.”

Leeds’ improved home form has seen them playing to an increase in attendance of beyond 500 people now – an increase of nearly 50 per cent over the course of the season – but tickets are still available via the club’s website www.leedsforce.co.uk

Tavarion Nix.

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