Leeds Force head coach Danny Nelson is hoping tonight’s crucial home clash against Surrey Scorchers (7.30pm) will showcase his side’s improvements, as Force ramp up their search for a vital first win of the new British Basketball League campaign.
An opening-night thrashing against now high-flying Newcastle Eagles spelt trouble for a rebuilding Force – but an admirable pair of performances on the road against Sheffield and Plymouth gave Nelson a glimpse of what a determined Leeds hope to achieve this season.
“Every game we’ve played has been a step up in terms of our performance on the night,” Nelson said. “Our concentration, execution, togetherness and tactical awareness has been steadily improving game by game. Plymouth was our best performance to date, we developed some chemistry and found line-ups that were very solid and could withstand pressure. Our aim is always to be better today than we were yesterday, and we know we still need to improve quickly because the teams around us are getting better themselves.”
With an injury to Aidan Appleyard hampering Force’s guard depth, Nelson moved swiftly to seal the signature of exciting American playmaker Tre Bennett – and the Irishman is confident Bennett’s addition will boost Leeds’ offensive output.
“Tre’s a very humble person who will add solid leadership qualities to our group and acts as a versatile backcourt player with the ability to play on and off the ball at both ends of the court – he’ll fit in nicely with our roster and be solid contributor to the team.”
Nelson is hopeful that tonight’s tantalising duel with Surrey can be the perfect platform for Leeds to reward the Force fanbase’s unwavering support, and provide a springboard into Sunday’s salivating match-up with table-toppers London Lions at The Copper Box, as Leeds begin their pursuit for BBL Cup glory.
“I was immensely appreciative of the fans who supported us against Newcastle, hopefully they bring their friends on Friday against Surrey Scorchers because it’s really all about them.
“Being competitive and making them proud to be involved with Leeds Force whilst enjoying what they see on the court is always our goal every time.
“We’ll be taking London and the BBL Cup very seriously, it’s an occasion where the fans deserve our best efforts and, of course, we want to use the game as a way of bettering ourselves against tremendously tough opponents.”