Basketball: Leeds Force preparing to give champions a rough ride

Oliver Hylands and Armand Anebo.
Oliver Hylands and Armand Anebo.
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Leeds Force hit the road for the final time this year as they return to action away to the Leicester Riders tonight.

The Force will hit the court for the first time after a two-week festive break as they come up against the league champions.

Leeds have already lost the series to one of the most accomplished sides in the league, but are looking to restore some pride when they head down to the Leicester Community Sports Arena.

The first time these two sides met earlier in the season, Leeds were humbled to their heaviest defeat of the campaign so far, going down 39-103 at the Carnegie Sports Arena.

They faced off again just two days later where Leeds put in a better display as they lost 92-60 in an improved performance.

Revenge will be on the cards for the Leeds players as they look to get one over Leicester who are one of two sides to score over 100 points against them.

Forward Rob Marsden is determined to put things right come tipoff: “We owe it to ourselves and the travelling fans mostly. We know we can hurt them.

“We beat them last year. So we know we can do it.

“We need to be the aggressors from the start. That’s what we aim to do.”

Having had some time off to enjoy the festive period the Force roster are looking to repay the coach’s generosity on the floor.

“We had some time off, coach (Matt Newby) didn’t need to do that,” added Marsden.

“He could have had us in every day over the break if he wanted too.

“Now we need to prove that he was right to do that and come out fighting.”

Road games have been tough on Leeds this season, losing five out of the six games outside of Yorkshire.

That form, coupled with their last home win coming two months to the date of their game against the Riders, it is vital that the Force take something from the game.

Despite sitting second-bottom they are only four points of a play-off spot.

With the Riders at home and sitting two points off top with a game in hand, the expectation is for them to roll over their visitors.

“They are the favourites without doubt,” said Marsden.

“That could be a dangerous thing as everyone expects us to come and make up the numbers.

“We can catch them cold if they think that”

Leeds’ roster has been getting back to full strength over the last few weeks as captain Armand Anebo returned to action last time out against the Sheffield Sharks after having knee surgery in the summer.

Jack Isenbarger also returned after three weeks out with a shoulder injury and Disraeli Lufadeju is soldiering on with a damaged finger.

Doubts remain, however, on Jermaine Sanders, who has a back injury.

On the plus side, Oliver Hylands is close to making a return to the court.

Danny Nelson. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

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