The Plymouth Raiders return home tonight to face the lowly Manchester Giants for the second time this season, at Pavilions.
Last week, the Raiders received a northerly blasting, as the side were picked apart by the Newcastle Eagles, losing by 25 points, 104-79.
The Raiders defensive struggles re-emerged as they failed to contain Newcastle’s shooters, who enjoyed near freedom when attacking the paint and from beyond the arc.
By the end of the meeting, six Eagle players found themselves scoring double digit numbers, led by the dangerous Jaysean Paige, who scored 25 for the second consecutive week.
Raiders assistant coach, Danny Stevens, was quick to identify more than just Paige as the reason the Raiders went behind early. He said:
“In all fairness, Newcastle has some great scorers out there, if one guy is having an off day, they have another guy that can step up.
“Yes, we didn’t have our best game defensively, especially in the first quarter when we let them get out ahead, but I think we strengthened up in the third and fourth quarters.”
“It was just a case where Newcastle had so many guys they could go to, so many top-class players, so I think that’s where we got put down.”
Raiders will certainly sigh with relief this week as they play host to a side sitting one spot below in the table. The Giants have had an equally frustrating season so far, only managing three wins from 18 games, and both the Raiders and Giants have only a single win from the last five.
The Giants, however, haven’t played a game in the space of three weeks after they lost to current cup holders, Cheshire Phoenix. The gap in play will certainly mean fresh legs on court, but the Raiders will fancy themselves more, especially with the return of Will Neighbour and Denzel Ubiaro, who didn’t travel to the sides last away game.
Stevens was full of confidence in his sides ability to get a win, despite the poor form this season. He said:
“We think we can win.
“We have a good group of guys at the moment, we’re beginning to click, we’re starting to come together more as a team, playing great team basketball.
“It’s just getting that onto the court on Friday, and being at home is a massive boost to us, all the fans really get behind us.”
The matchup will also serve as a homecoming for the Giants head coach, Danny Byrne, who saw extended playing time with the Raiders in the beginning of his career, before moving on to the Thames Valley Tigers.
The Raiders will be looking for another strong outing from last month’s signing, Eric Eaves, who scored a BBL personal best 19 points, to go with five rebounds and three steals last time out.
Stevens agreed that the young American was improving, saying:
“I think Eric is getting better and better each game as he adapts to the BBL.
“Every game he’s putting up better numbers, he’s getting more confident and reaching the basket more.
“He’s really adapting to life in Plymouth as well, it was his first time out of the United States and the first couple of weeks he was nervous, but now he’s really coming into his own and I think we’ll keep seeing a growth in Eric.
With the playoff spots beginning to close for the Raiders, every win from here on out will hold vital significance if the side want a shot at the cup.
See the pre game interview with Assistant Coach Danny Stevens on Raiders TV.
Tickets for the game can be bought online at www.ticketstore.co.uk or on the door at Pavilions.