Head coach Danny Nelson hopes Leeds Force can use their first fixtures of the new year to get their British Basketball League play-off charge back on track, taking on Surrey Scorchers tonight before hosting Bristol Flyers on Sunday to complete a hectic weekend double-header.
A pair of defeats across the festive period to reigning champions Leicester Riders left Leeds staring at the bottom of the BBL standings as 2018 rolled in, but a buoyant Nelson is hoping Force can replicate the league leaders’ rigorous standards tonight as Leeds take on Surrey Scorchers under the lights in the BBC’s weekly featured match-up.
“There’s plenty of positives to take into the new year,” Nelson said.
“We’ve been tried and tested against Leicester in the last couple of games – they’re the best team in the league so hopefully we can apply what we’ve learned from them in the double-header this weekend.”
A revitalised Leeds charge into the new year without the injury issues that plagued them across the first months of the season, a factor the confident Nelson believes will prove pivotal to Leeds’ chances of turning their difficult season around.
He added: “We gave the guys some time off which is important, that’s helped combat some health issues we’ve been dealing with as a unit. Having some vital players back will hopefully give us that extra punch we’ve been missing, so we’re refreshed and raring to go and give our all against Surrey tonight.
“Surrey have some advantages, but we know what to expect from them – we’ll be looking to exploit their weaknesses.
“But we’ll have to be at our best if we want to challenge for the win.”
Force then shift their focus to Sunday’s clash with Bristol Flyers, but the Irishman asserted that Leeds mustn’t get ahead of themselves in the fixture list – instead hoping to use tonight’s duel down in Surrey as the first step in a long and winding road to play-off salvation.
“It’s one game at a time, it’s a long project that we’re building at Leeds Force, but we’ve got to be proud of the gains we’ve made as a team and keep moving forwards this season – the next step for everyone is Surrey. We’re desperate to provide a product our fans can be fiercely proud of, we’ve made progress and winning both on and off the court is our main aim heading into 2018.”