The Raiders have lost two in a row since their heroics in Newcastle on the 11th of January and will be hoping for a return to form against the second place Sheffield Sharks. Plymouth are in ninth place in the BBL and have to steady the ship quickly if they are to make the play-offs this year.
Despite their less than favourable league position, the Raiders certainly have the requisite talent to make a play-off run. In their last outing against the Leicester Riders, Plymouth were ahead for much of the game and looked comfortable in possession. A scoreless stretch of over six minutes and the dismissal of key player Rashad Hassan decimated the Raiders chances of an upset and they eventually slumped to an 88-82 loss.
The Sharks suffered their own heart-breaking loss last Friday as they fell victim to the Bristol Flyers. Flyers forward, Justin Gray buried the game-winning three with just 0.2 seconds on the clock. Despite the loss, Dirk Williams and Chris Alexander were impressive for Sheffield. Consistency is king for this dangerous duo, as proven by their number two and number three rankings in the BBL for average points per game (Williams with 20 and Alexander, 19.95). Raiders Head Coach, Paul James, will be painfully familiar with Sheffield’s attacking prowess, having lost 57-66 to them earlier this year.
Can Plymouth safely traverse the swirling mid-season waters of the BBL or will they be turned into shark chum once again in Sheffield?
For the Raiders, Rashad Hassan remains at the helm of the BBL average points table and was sorely missed when he fouled out late on against Leicester. The 6’8 power forward, will need to utilise his physicality and deft touch around the basket if the Raiders are to muddy the waters against the Sharks’ this Friday. Plymouth will also need Josh Wilcher to be at the very peak of his powers. Wilcher was in a class of his own in Plymouth’s last outing against the Riders, contributing a staggering 25 points. Not only did he provide the majority of the Raiders points’, he also directed the offense with the panache of a seasoned conductor.
Despite their troubles on the road this year, the Raiders have a number of offensive weapons that are capable of taking down just about any team in the BBL. If Plymouth can stay with the Sharks on the offensive side of the ball whilst employing a more aggressive high-press defence then there is every chance of a Raiders win this Friday night.
Tickets for the next home game against Glasgow on February 1st are available at https://www.plymouthraiders.com/tickets/. Make sure you keep up with everything Raiders on Twitter @officialraiders.
Let’s go Raiders!