After a week of rest, tonight the Plymouth Raiders hit the long road north to face the Newcastle Eagles, for the second time this season.
Forward, Stefan Djukic, appreciated the time between games adding to the team’s health, but preferred games closer together. He said:
“We have fresh legs and we’re ready for this new cycle.
“I feel a good energy in the team, we are playing unselfishly and we’re really together.”
“I actually prefer the close turnarounds, it’s easier when you have games one after the other.
“If you have a bad game you don’t have any time to feel bad about it, but at the same time having more time to prepare is good, so it’s a double-edged sword.”
Last time out, the Raiders pulled of an impressive win over Newcastle who now find themselves in contention for the championship, sitting second in the BBL table with 15 wins from 20 games.
Djukic wasn’t about to give up the Raiders carefully placed plan, but had this to say about the game.
“We’ll have to play hard defence, play with high tempo, and play team basketball.”
Although faced with the prospect of playing another top table team, Raiders will have a good performance to build upon. In the previous loss to the fast-paced Bristol Flyers, the defence was tight and the team played with an energy unseen a lot of the season so far, a performance Head Coach, Gavin Love, described as “one of the better team performances of the season so far.” Although the final score ended heavily against the Raiders, the game should have been closer and was more than winnable. Unfortunately, though, late game decisions hampered the Raiders who fell behind with five minutes to play.
Despite the increase in team tempo, the Raiders find themselves in a recent performance slump, losing four times over the past five weeks.
On the other hand, the Eagles will be full of confidence at home after brushing aside Leeds Force 114-73. A player the Raiders will need to prepare for is point guard, Jaysean Paige, who pummelled the Force defence, putting up a massive 25 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds, four steals and two blocks. The stellar performance led to Paige’s sixth season selection to the all-star five.
Djukic, however, identified the team as a whole a threat, not just Paige. He said:
“He had a good day, but they’re a good team all around, so we can’t just prepare for him, we’re prepared for all of them.
“We know their strengths and their weaknesses and we’re going to try exploiting there’s whilst we don’t expose ours.”
If the Raiders want to knock of the Eagles, they will need to maintain their defensive poise and hustle to lose ball. Also, if the side can focus on shooting from the paint rather than outside, there’s no reason why the game can’t be contestable before Love’s men return home to play the Manchester Giants next week.
See the pre game interview with Stefan Djukic on Raiders TV.
Tickets for the home game against Manchester Giants on Friday 16th March can be bought online at www.ticketstore.co.uk or on the door at Pavilions for a 7:30pm tip-off.