Head coach Matt Newby says Leeds Force will embrace the tag of ‘under-dogs’ in this weekend’s play-off double-header with champions Leicester Riders.
The West Yorkshire side have reached the post-season for the first time in only their second season in the BBL.
As eighth seed heading into the two-legged quarter-final, they face a monumental task against a Leicester side crowned champions last Friday night. But two weeks ago, Force shocked the Riders in a thrilling game, one of four straight victories the Leeds men finished with to gatecrash the play-offs.
“It’s nice to be an underdog. The pressure is all on Leicester and the last time they walked onto our floor we beat them,” said Newby.
“We put up our highest points total of the season. But even then we didn’t perform at our best. There are still elements of that game that we look back on and think ‘we could have done that better’.
“It’s about us making it as competitive as we can, doing our homework and attempting to push them in both games.”
What will make the task even tougher is that the second leg in Leicester is Saturday night, just 24 hours after the two tip-off at the Carnegie Sports Arena.
That has meant a week spent focusing on two games instead of one.
“You have to prepare for both games,” continued Newby. “We have contingencies in place for if we’re five points ahead, 10 points behind, whatever.
“We’ve shown in the last few weeks that we’re capable.”
Whatever the outcome for the Force this weekend, merely reaching the play-offs has been a significant achievement by the second-year club.
Newby said of the accomplishment: “There’s a lot of pride but also generally we’re pleased for the boys because they’ve worked very hard and this is a testament to their work ethic. Reaching the play-offs is is the product of a lot of people’s hard work and ultimately it’s a positive reflection on the programme.
“There’ll be benefits commercially because we have made it to the play-offs and in terms of recruitment for next season, this season has shown we are a competitive team in a very strong league, and a higher calibre of player will now want to play for us.”