Rob Marsden: Defeat of defending champions shows Leeds are again a Force

Rob Marsden in action for Leeds Force last season.
Rob Marsden in action for Leeds Force last season.
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Wow, what a start to the season for Leeds Force! I couldn’t have asked for a better way to kick off the season than beating our local rivals Sheffield Sharks.

It was always going to be tough start, they are the British Basketball League play-off champions and whatever players they put on the court, it’s always going to be tough so to win in the way we did was special.

Robert Marsden, Leeds Force, (Photo: Kieron Nevison)

Robert Marsden, Leeds Force, (Photo: Kieron Nevison)

A super performance by everyone at Leeds Force secured county bragging rights after we beat the Sharks 79-58 at the Carnegie Sports Arena on Sunday.

Being a local lad, not living far from Sheffield, it was important to me to be able to beat them for the first time in my career.

I grew up in Doncaster, learned the game with Danum Eagles before moving to Leeds when they were a university and national league basketball programme in 2011.

I stepped up to the BBL with Manchester Giants and also played a year in France with a team called Cognac before returning to Manchester in 2015.

I joined Leeds Force that summer and have just entered my second season with the team.

So, with all that in mind, I always get extra motivated for a game with Sheffield Sharks.

It always hurts to lose to them but beating them on Sunday and finally getting over that block was great.

They have had the bragging rights for a little while now but now we are hoping to wrestle that away from them and be the best team in Yorkshire.

Remember, Leeds Force are starting out on just our third season in the BBL.

We were strong in most areas of the court. If you look at the stats, especially in the second half, Jack Isenbarger was outstanding. With 14 points in the last quarter, he was unplayable.

On a personal note, my game felt good and it was good to get some good points on the board, which has given me confidence to now kick on and carry this into the rest of the season.

I got close to reaching 1,000 BBL points on Sunday, I’m just two points off it.

I had no idea about it until someone tweeted me in the week.

It was on my mind going onto the court but, to be honest, once we got going I completely forgot about it.

My brother came to me at the end and said ‘hard luck, you didn’t get it’, but for me it was more about the result and to win by 21 points that was more important.

Hopefully, I will be able to get that record against the Cheshire Phoenix this Sunday and that will help us get another two points in the bag. We want to get points in the bag early this year.

Last year, we had a slow start but now as a franchise we are growing and so is our aspiration.

For me, I want us as high up the table as possible. We finished eighth last year, which was fantastic for us to make the end-of-season play-offs. This year, fourth, fifth or sixth should be our aim.

The higher we are the easier the draw we will get in the play-offs.

We have a good, young, hungry roster that are going out and playing with no fear which makes us difficult to come up against.

Don’t get me wrong, we had a great roster last year, too. It was a shame to see most of the boys leave – the likes of Marek Klaasen who was instrumental for us as we gatecrashed the play-offs – but we are all at different points in our lives so I understand.

Finally from me this week, the noise from the fans helped us rise to another level and we will need that all season so I hope to see you all back at the Carnegie Sports Arena on Sunday when we face the Cheshire Phoenix.

Tavarion Nix.

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