Oliver Hylands: Force have taken giant leap for the sport in city

Oliver Hylands
Oliver Hylands
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One small step, one giant leap. Like the famous words spoken by Neil Armstrong, Leeds Force are making their own history.

With an exciting 85-76 victory over Manchester Giants last Friday in the Roses derby, the team hauled itself off the bottom of the BBL table and took one small step towards the play-off places.

It may seem like an unsuccessful season when you are celebrating your fifth league win after 21 games, however, when you consider that for the past six seasons in the British Basketball League, the bottom team has not won more than three games, it shows that this is nothing less than a giant leap for basketball in Leeds.

With another 15 games left to play in the league, who knows just how far this team can go in their first season?

The following day was a little bit of a reality check, with the well-established Leicester Riders showing their depth by running out to a comfortable victory.

Despite a strong run to start the second half to bring the game back to within six points, the Riders ran out to a comfortable 30-point victory to knock us out of the BBL Trophy.

Despite the loss, positives can definitely be taken from the way everyone held their own and made a strong comeback at one of the top three teams in the league. We continue on with confidence that we can go on and take some more wins before the end of the season.

As always with the basketball season, there is very little time to look back, instead a chance to look forward to another giant step, this time a literal giant, with Force going up against seven foot seven inch Paul Sturgess and his Cheshire Phoenix on Friday at the Sports Arena at Leeds Beckett University (7.30pm).

British centre Sturgess joined from the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters and has already brought in big crowds in Cheshire.

Despite Phoenix surrendering their unbeaten run on Sunday, they are still not going to be an easy task and I speak for the whole team when I say ‘we need your support’.

As our home games become more sparse, we are certainly appreciating all of the new and existing fans who have continued to scream and shout for us this season. I think it is certainly understated just how much that support can do to a team’s performance.

With five out of our six wins for the entire season coming at home, the record speaks for itself. The people of Leeds can do amazing things and give us that extra boost that we need.

Once all of the small steps and giant leaps on the court are done for this week, it doesn’t stop; Saturday night is the ESH Group annual dinner in Newcastle, with the entire team kindly invited to celebrate another successful year for the leading construction company.

We know without their support this team wouldn’t be here, so we are excited to see the faces that have made this dream a reality.

The chance to unwind doesn’t come often during the season so I know everyone involved, including our owners Mark Mills and Matt Newby, will be keen to be away from a basketball court for once and have a chance to reflect on what we have achieved so far. In return for all of these great opportunities this week, I get the opportunity in my role as player and operations manager to help inspire the new generation.

By hosting the Leeds City Finals at The Arena this Friday, there’s a chance to see the best players from across the city, including a number of familiar faces from Force’s junior teams.

Hopefully all of our players will enjoy battling it out to be named the best in Leeds.