Rob Marsden: Caught cold and punished – Leeds Force need to start much faster against Sheffield Sharks

Points machine: YEP columnist Rob Marsden scored 33 points on Sunday against Plymouth but it was all in vain as Leeds Force lost.
Points machine: YEP columnist Rob Marsden scored 33 points on Sunday against Plymouth but it was all in vain as Leeds Force lost.
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Argh, what a disappointing weekend that was ... again.

Leeds Force lost 96-79 at Bristol Flyers on Friday night and then went down 104-87 against the Plymouth Raiders on our own court, the Carnegie Sports Arena, on Sunday afternoon.

The two defeats leave us 10th in the 12-team table, with three wins from 12 games.

We had gone into the weekend feeling confident, thinking we could come away with two wins from two games, but we just didn’t perform.

It’s frustrating to think we could have climbed up the table and into the (top eight) play-off positions but we are now looking over our shoulder.

Starting with Bristol on the Friday night, they caught us cold at the start and we were chasing the gap from there.

We never really got going and gave the ball away too much and when you do that you are putting yourself at a disadvantage from the outset.

When we did get going it wasn’t for long enough. It has to be for the full game not for five or 10 minutes.

It was a tough trip heading down and back up to Bristol in a day. I’m not using that as an excuse but it makes it difficult.

The Plymouth game on Sunday played out almost the same as the Bristol one.

They started strong and we were chasing from the start.

We are usually the ones that start strong and set the tone, not wait for others to do so and then start chasing the game.

In the first half we were slow, the ball didn’t drop for us and our heads started to drop with it, which resulted in us turning the ball over more.

But then in the second half the momentum swung and they started missing more baskets and turning the ball over.

That got our tails up and we started reducing the deficit.

We did get it down but for me it’s still a deficit.

We shouldn’t be in that situation anyway.

Personally I take confidence from my own performance. I am feeling a lot fitter. I have been playing big chunks of minutes recently which is good, but tough.

Maybe I am playing a bit too much but we have some injuries so I am happy to play wherever and for how long the team needs me.

To get a double double against Plymouth was personally a nice achievement.

To put over 30 points on the board, especially in the final home game of the year, was special.

But as a team we need to get these losses out of your system quickly.

We have the derby against Sheffield Sharks on Friday night at the English Institute of Sport (7.30pm).

This is a big game for me, being from Doncaster. It’s always a big game and having beaten them at the beginning of the season we want to do it again.

They have changed their team a lot since we last played them and are in a better moment so it’s going to be a tough ask.

The Sharks have climbed up to sixth and have a record of seven wins and six losses.

Let’s not forget, these guys went all the way to the play-off final last year and shocked a lot of people in the league when they beat the Leicester Riders.

Having said that, I never think we can’t beat any team in the league.

So if we can start strong we have a chance to go into the Christmas break – with a win.

If we don’t it’s going to be a tough road to get off as we have Leicester on Friday December 30, 7.30pm, after Christmas and that is another tough trip.

Sheffield is always special for me so I’m confident we can come away with the win and clinch the series against them, even with a game to spare, back on our court on Sunday, February 19.

If you can’t make it down to Sheffield to come and support us, fear not; the game will be screened live, free to air, on the BBC Sport website.

This represents a big step forward for the club and for the sport of basketball in Great Britain.

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We are Force!

Tavarion Nix of Leeds Force goes to the basket against Surrey Scorchers (Picture: Alex Daniels)

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