Danny Nelson insists bottom-of-the-table Leeds Force must start improving now if they’re to salvage any positives from what has been a disastrous BBL campaign so far, writes SEB GIGNER.
A 20th straight defeat against title-fighting Newcastle Eagles last week officially eliminated the faltering Force from play-off contention, leaving Leeds with only pride to play for in the remaining seven games of a woeful and torrid season for the West Yorkshire club. An Easter weekend double-header begins with Leeds descending into the capital to take on London Lions tonight (7:30pm), and Force play-caller Nelson believes nothing less than maximum effort will do if his stretched squad is to challenge for victory at The Copper Box.
“London are very busy with plenty of games in the next week, and hopefully we can take advantage of that,” Nelson said. “They’re a fierce opponent though so we’re not expecting it to be easy down there today.
“Road trips take their toll on the squad since we’re so thin on the ground right now, but they’re a resilient bunch and we’re relishing the opportunity to compete and give our all.
“Our hearts have to be in it this weekend – we have to apply ourselves and give more effort if we’ve any chance of a positive result.”
Despite a desolate run of results across a chaotic campaign, Nelson poured praise on his youthful band of recruits for stepping up to the plate and giving their all in difficult circumstances – commending their ability to lead a side mostly absent of experienced BBL players.
“I’m proud of the guys who’ve stepped up to the BBL having never played at this level before in their careers – they’re giving all they’ve got and we can’t ask much more from them.
“We’ve really relied on our inexperienced, younger talent this season – they’re fighters and they deserve praise for their play this year.”
Leeds round off Easter with a tantalising showdown against local rivals Sheffield Sharks in South Yorkshire on Sunday (2pm), with the Irishman demanding a robust performance and vowing not to let his squad’s focus drift.
“A win in the Yorkshire derby would be hugely satisfying for everyone, but right now it’s all about being able to compete.”
He added: “We don’t want to have to wait until next season to re-evaluate, we have to start getting better today – that’s what our fans and this league deserves.”