Samuel Toluwase: We need to learn how to finish teams off

Danny Nelson. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)
Danny Nelson. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)
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Leeds Force are getting better every week – it’s frustrating to lose but we’re working hard every day to earn more wins.

We’ll always stay true to what we want to achieve, and believe that we can compete in this league against anyone.

Tavarion Nix lines up a shot against Cheshire Phoenix (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

Tavarion Nix lines up a shot against Cheshire Phoenix (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

These next two weeks when we’ve got back-to-back games against Cheshire Phoenix (Sunday, 5.30pm, Cheshire Oaks Arena and Friday December 1, 7.30pm, Carnegie Sports Arena) will be a lot easier on the players – particularly the new guys – since we’ve already played Cheshire recently.

We understand what they’re about, what they do, and the new guys can learn about how they fit in our system.

Playing the same team back-to-back allows you to exploit their weaknesses, and if we can understand their type of play then we can certainly compete for wins against Cheshire.

We have to stay calm, stay consistent and keep professional – it doesn’t matter who you are, whoever shows up on the night can win against anybody in this league.

We’ve been in close contests at half-time knowing we can challenge for victory but get carried away and let slip of all our hard-work, which is incredibly frustrating for everyone and particularly me as a team leader.

Samuel Toluwase

Cheshire lost to Manchester, yet we defeated Manchester, which shows the unpredictability of the British Basketball League.

It doesn’t matter about how many points you score, how high your percentage or how aggressively you dunked the basketball – all that matters is coming together and getting the win.

As a team we haven’t been doing the simple things well enough recently, and that 
must change otherwise we can’t turn our losing run around.

As much as we want to say that competing is vital, we all want to win some games, so we have to learn how to close games out.

Eric Curth rises for a shot for Leeds Force against Cheshire Phoenix (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

Eric Curth rises for a shot for Leeds Force against Cheshire Phoenix (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

We’ve been in close contests at half-time knowing we can challenge for victory but get carried away and let slip all our hard-work, which is incredibly frustrating for everyone and particularly me as a team leader.

It’s tough to deal with, but as the captain, I have to make sure everyone remains strong and keeps moving forward.

I don’t dwell on losses, we can’t get our lost games back, so we just have to stay positive and focused.

I need to give what I have learned in my career, and hopefully if some of the younger players are willing to learn then we can all make improvements as a unit...and quickly.

I grew up in a different era, we had to work hard for everything. Nothing was given to you easily, contracts weren’t just handed out, so you had to prove yourself as good enough to play in the league.

You must show heart on and off the court – young players wanting to play basketball have to know that it’s not all about what you see on social media or on TV in the NBA, the real graft is working hard.

If you learn to work hard, learn to never give up and fight for what you want then you can be a successful basketball player.

Coaches are looking for that role model, young players are looking for a role model – and it feels crazy to think about how players younger than me on the team have looked up to me as that senior figure to guide them.

I am a role model, so I have to stay professional at all times and at all costs.

Playing for the Nigerian national team, going to America, travelling to Canada for college – you have to be able to adapt as a basketball player, so professionalism is key to your success.

I’ve learnt that from my years on the colleagiate system and in international basketball.

As a team, we need to bring that professionalism on and off the court if we want to win games for Leeds Force.

That’s it for this week’s column, thanks for reading and hopefully we can deliver our fans a first road victory of the season in Cheshire on Sunday.

#FeelTheForce

Interview: Seb Gigner