Leeds Force will be looking to kick-start their 2017/18 British Basketball League campaign with a victory tonight, as Danny Nelson’s side play host to reigning BBL Cup champions Newcastle Eagles at Carnegie Sports Arena.
Nelson – who replaces the departing Mika Turunen in the Force hot-seat – faces a stern test to begin his Force tenure, knowing only a tenacious and inspired performance will be enough to see Leeds put expected title battlers Newcastle to the sword.
Having dismantled the Eagles to snap a six-game losing streak last season, Nelson is hoping the element of surprise boasted by a fresh-faced Force could see Leeds storm to another memorable win.
“Newcastle have some advantages over us, having more time to work with each other,” Nelson said. “But they also have some disadvantages in terms of not knowing much about us.
“We don’t fear anybody, but we’re primarily concentrating on ourselves. We’ll be giving everything we have, so we’ll see what happens.”
However, the Irishman was keen to assert that an entirely rebuilt Force squad will need time to shape itself into a cohesive unit that can challenge for a playoff berth.
“We’ve worked on our offensive and defensive play, and more importantly we’ve focused on how we will compete and behave.”
“These things take time to develop, it’s a marathon not a sprint,” Nelson added.
“We’re still getting to know each other – it’s all brand new.
“There’s a great dynamic in the group across our roster, we have a lot of areas covered and it’s about bringing it all together over the next few weeks.”
Despite having little time to piece together his Leeds squad, Nelson confidently outlined his vision for this season and beyond – hoping to supply an electrifying style of basketball that’s both successful and appealing to Force fans.
“We’re looking to build a competitive culture, we want to build a brotherhood, a relentlessness and provide the people who believe in us with a brand of basketball that fans are excited for and they enjoy.”
Nelson is confident that Force’s new-found togetherness and determination acan propel Leeds into top eight contention.
“We can challenge for the play-offs, and that’s what we’re aiming for – that’s what it’s all about. Maybe we’ll punch above our weights because we have bigger hearts, and because we’re all dedicated to what we’re doing as a team.”