Leeds Force head coach Danny Nelson hopes his side can build on a first win of the season a week ago with victory against BBL Cup semi-finalists Cheshire Phoenix tonight.
Nelson’s rebuilt Force charged to a long-awaited maiden win of the new campaign last week, edging fellow strugglers Manchester Giants 87-82 at Carnegie Sports Arena – a win the Irishman feels everyone involved with the team thoroughly deserved.
“It’s very nice to get that win, especially when you see how hard everyone played on the court together,” Nelson said.
“You don’t want to get too high or too low, but I really do appreciate the win – our staff and the fans deserve it, and we all feel good about it.”
Spearheaded by 2016 BBL Playoff Champion Samuel Toluwase and American star Tre Bennett, Nelson believes the team leaders’ successful basketball backgrounds can help to develop a winning culture at Leeds Force.
“There are some real winners on this team, and those guys coached the end of the game and got the job done last week,” added Nelson.
“Knowing that we have a leadership group that can face any threat is a big advantage for us going forward.”
Force’s Friday foes Cheshire battled to a BBL Cup quarter-final triumph over previously-undefeated Newcastle Eagles a week ago, before slumping to defeat against Leeds’ first scalp Manchester two days on. Despite giving Manchester a first win of the year, Nelson asserted that the unpredictable nature of the BBL means Phoenix will be no pushovers in tonight’s clash: “This league is so competitive, it doesn’t surprise me that Cheshire beat Newcastle and lost to Manchester – but they’re a strong side so now it’s all about focusing on our goal and giving our all to seal a second win.”
With Force’s squad finally beginning to take shape after a turbulent pre-season, Nelson hopes that last week’s win and a much-needed period of stability will prove the catalyst for Leeds to climb the BBL standings.
“We dealt with Manchester’s adjustments, and hopefully now with a week of preparation behind us we can challenge for victory against Cheshire,” he said.
“Last week’s win was just a glimpse of what we can achieve this campaign.”
He added: “We’re growing with time; our roster construction is going well and we’re improving every day – there’s a lot more to come from Leeds Force this season.”