Fresh from their first back-to-back victories as a BBL franchise, Leeds Force look to continue their form across both league and cup formats this weekend.
The second-year team notched wins against Bristol Flyers and Surrey Scorchers on the last two Friday nights to dramatically transform a start to the season that had seen them lose their opening three games.
They are now looking up after those successive wins, and further improvement and positive results against Leicester Riders tonight at the Carnegie Sports Arena (7.30pm) and on the road at Glasgow Rocks on Sunday when attentions turns to the BBL Cup, will continue the recent trend.
Force’s upturn in fortunes has coincided with a return to fitness of their captain Armand Anebo and the form of two of their American imports, D’Andre Bullard and Kwan Waller.
Bullard, from Virginia, scored 17 points on his debut in the win against Surrey last week, to match the 17 contributed by Waller – a recruit from Kentucky Wesleyan College – on his BBL bow against the Bristol the previoues week.
Force head coach Matt Newby said: “It’s a given that teams need time to gel and we are beginning to do so. We learnt tough lessons early on when playing the likes of London and Newcastle.
“Looking forward, I think we are learning within the games now and adjusting to our environment whilst simply striving for better performances.”
Sunday’s BBL Cup first-round encounter offers the chance to prosper in another competition, but it is the bread and butter of the league – and the chase for a top-eight play-off place – that drives the fledgling club.
Ahead of the visit of the Riders, the oldest club in the league, Newby said: “I think Leicester have been really smart about what they have done this season, they have maintained the core of their programme and kept a good domestic crop.
“TrayVonn Wright and Neil Watson have been very good in this league. I think Rob [Paternostro – coach] has been very smart in trying to keep some continuity.
“Rob likes to apply pressure and offset teams early but we must show composure when this happens.
“I expect it to be a very hard-nosed game and if we can’t slow them down it’s going to be a problem as they are very good in transition.
“We know they are going to bring some intensity.
“We must take the positives from our last two games and push on this weekend.”