The Plymouth Raiders travel to Leicester this Friday after a disappointing 48 hours in which they suffered a league defeat and crashed out of the BBL Cup.
Despite earth-shaking home support and a number of late opportunities, Plymouth fell tantalisingly short in their BBL Cup Quarterfinal, with the game ending 80-82 in favour of their northern adversaries. The Raiders also suffered a league defeat to the Sheffield Sharks in a bizarre game that was subject to a 35-minute delay, after the ever-mischievous Foxy smashed a backboard after his trademark dunk. The Sharks took advantage of a Raiders side, decimated by injuries, to win out 57-66.
The Raiders will want to return to winning ways as they venture north to take on the Leicester Riders. The Riders sit one place below Plymouth in the championship standings, having only played four league games this season due to their participation in the FIBA Europe Cup.
If the Riders had concerns regarding their European exploits having a negative impact on league form, they need not have worried. Of their last four league matches, the Riders have won three, with the one narrow loss coming against BBL Championship leaders, the London Lions.
Leading the line for Leicester is Jarius Holder. The Atlanta-born Forward has racked up 68 points and 16 assists in just four games. Rema Lascelles is another player the Raiders will need to be wary of, the 26-year-old Guard has made a staggering 24 assists so far this season and looks to be building on his breakout 2017/2018 campaign.
The Raiders squad has been ravaged by injuries of late and head coach, Paul James, will have to utilise his full squad come Friday night. When asked about his sides chances against Leicester, James stated that:
“Who knows. It’s a competitive league this year. Certainly, we’ve shown we are a defensively solid team. We’re like the walking wounded at the moment. We’re missing Joonas. We’re missing Josh, We’re missing Declan. That’s a lot of points and a lot of production… If they’re not here on Friday then we’ll have to find a way to get the job done if we can.”
Plymouth will need their big players to have big games if they want to mount a serious challenge against the formidable Riders. Rashad Hassan and Devontavius Payne, standout players last weekend, will need to turn those positive performances into more points if they are to come out on top. After a sluggish defensive start against the Sharks last Sunday, Plymouth will need to be far more dynamic in their pressing in order to disrupt the Riders offense. If the Raiders can efficiently execute their high-press defence and stay with the Riders through all four quarters then there is no reason this shouldn’t be another very close encounter in a competitive BBL.
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The Raiders next home game is on December 9th against Cheshire Phoenix. Tickets are available at https://www.plymouthraiders.com/tickets/