It was a tough weekend for Leeds Force with two convincing defeats at the hands of London Lions and Newcastle Eagles.
After a long journey down to the capital, the Copper Box Arena was filled with raucous fans supporting the London Lions for their season opener. With knowledge of last year’s victory at the Copper Box fresh in the team’s mind, we were motivated to compete with last year’s championship play-off runners-up.
However, as with many teams in the British Basketball League, a new season brings about many roster changes and provides a whole new challenge.
The Force were unable to quell the Lions’ scoring threats on their way to shooting 56.1 per cent from the field including 39.1 per cent from three-point range.
Merciless full-court pressure from the Lions led the Force to commit 22 turnovers causing 22 Lions’ points. The shortened bench was an apparent shortcoming for the Force with a disparity of bench points compared with the competitors (36-9).
Zak Wells stood out for the Force, leading the team in points (23), rebounds (7), assists (4), and blocks (1). Rob Marsden also had an admirable performance with 12 points six rebounds and one steal.
Less than 48 hours later, Leeds Force traversed up to the North East to challenge the defending champions, Newcastle Eagles, at Sport Central. Leeds Force were buoyed by head coach, Matt Newby, and encouraged to put in a more complete game than in their previous performance.
The players responded and it brought about a scrappy, hard fought, physical match. However, the experience and depth of Newcastle proved to be too much for Leeds. Turnovers were the defining factor of the game as 35 of the Eagles’ points were from Leeds’ 25 turnovers.
Zak Wells continued to display his dominance inside by accruing a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds along with three assists. Clayfell Harris provided a strong presence inside for Leeds, scoring 14 points and ripping down seven rebounds. Returning Force player, Darrell Bethune, showed his prowess by dishing out a team-high six assists to go along with 13 points and seven rebounds. The Force are currently without our import players because of visa issues and our captain, Armand Anebo, due to injury.
A silver lining is that we have yet to field our full-strength team and when we do, it should provide more stability, depth, and resilience for the rest of the season.Legendary NBA player and coach and 13-time champion, Phil Jackson, said in his book Sacred Hoops that: “Eventually, everybody loses, ages, changes.
“And small triumphs – a great play, a moment of true sportsmanship – count, even though you may not win the game.”
It’s important to note that the basketball season is a marathon, not a sprint. The journey provides many opportunities for growth, both individually and collectively. Leeds Force will continue to build upon their small triumphs in an effort to make major achievements this season.