Leeds Force have strengthened their roster ahead of Friday’s mouth-watering derby with Sheffield Sharks with the acquisition of a US college graduate.
Guard Giordano Estrada has joined the British Basketball League rookies on a deal until the end of the season after finishing at Chico State in California in the summer.
Estrada impressed on a two-week trial with the fledgling organisation and is available to make his debut in the first Yorkshire derby in the elite level of basketball, which tips-off at 7.30pm on Friday at Leeds Beckett University.
Estrada, who arrives on an Italian passport, conceded he did not know much about Leeds Force before earning himself a trial but is determined to make a lasting impression.
“I was eager to play basketball overseas and I want to stay out here as long as I can, if that means staying with Leeds then I’m happy with that,” said the former Sacramento State player.
“I’m eager to experience different cultures.
“It’s always a difficult situation, not knowing the team you’re going to and them not knowing much about you other than a couple of tapes.
“But I was lucky enough that coach (Matt) Newby gave me a trial here and I must have done well enough to impress him.
“I was only able to do a few practice sessions so I had to go out there and play as hard as I could and as smart as I could.”
Director of professional basketball Newby had two guards on trial as he looked to bolster a squad that has won just two BBL Championship games so far, but said Estrada was a clear winner.
“With Gio we have got a guard that shows good composure, has good basketball IQ and the right level of discipline we need at this level,” said Newby. “He can do a number of things on the floor and he is versatile. We only had one guard and he offers us something different.”