Leeds Force head coach Danny Nelson is hoping his team can battle adversity to claim a priceless first win of the British Basketball League season against the winless Manchester Giants tonight.
A series of injuries and the exit of American forward Michel-Ofik Nzege saw a weakened Force suffer defeat to Bristol Flyers last week, but a determined Nelson was proud of how Force fought back late in the game.
“We had some injuries, and the lack of numbers meant a lot of guys were playing out of position in extended roles they weren’t used to,” Nelson said.
“Nzege’s contract being bought out by a European team in the week also left us short-handed, but I’m proud of how our guys dealt with that adversity on the night.
“We never gave up, delivered a strong fourth quarter led by Tre Bennett and finished strong as a unit – that ‘never-say-die’ attitude and bravery showcased the type of basketball we’re looking to offer Leeds Force fans.”
With only seven players active against Bristol, Nelson saw the game as an opportunity for inexperienced team members to show their skills at the highest level.
He said: “With disadvantages come opportunities – we saw extended minutes for development players who performed well, and it gave them some much-needed experience of top-level basketball.”
Nzege’s departure opens up spots on the roster for improvement, and Nelson hopes his tireless effort to land some new signings will pay off in the coming weeks.
He said: “We’re getting better every day – there’s still guys to add, and we’re always working on improving the team with new players to complement the talent and quality we already have available. Once a couple of guys return from injury, and a couple of additions are made, there’s no doubt in my mind that we can compete more consistently on a regular basis.”
Nelson added: “We’ve been competitive against teams, but we’ve got to put it all together and go for it against Manchester Giants. They’re in a similar situation to ourselves at the moment, but it’s a game that we can win and we’ll be giving our all to seal a first victory for everyone at Leeds Force.”