With a six point deficit looming ominously over their heads, the Raiders arrived in the capital city on Monday knowing that anything less than a convincing win would see them crash out of the competition. Despite a close affair at the Pavilions, Raiders Head Coach Paul James insisted that his side needed to compete more aggressively around the rim if they were to stand any chance of progressing.
With Coach James’ pertinent instructions ringing in their ears, the Raiders went on to stage one of the most impressive comebacks in BBL play-off history. Showing commendable levels of patience and determination throughout the game, Plymouth eventually ran out 72-86 winners (177–169 on aggregate.)
Rashad Hassan, who had been limited to just nine points in the first leg, was dominant around the rim and finished the game with 18 points. Hassan also pulled down nine total rebounds in an impressive response to Paul James’ pre-game call to arms. Having spent the majority of the year atop the average points per game league table, Hassan is sure to play a monumental role in Wednesday evening’s game against Leicester.
BBL Player of the Month, Donte Nicholas had yet another game to remember against the Lions with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Showcasing his versatility, the 6’5 guard drained a number of crucial threes from beyond the arc that served to rally his teammates and decimate Lions’ morale. Totalling an incredible 46 points over the two legs, the Raiders fan favourite continues to strengthen his MVP credentials as we enter the final stretch of this remarkable season. If Nicholas can continue to deliver with such potency the Riders will find it difficult, if not impossible, to keep him contained.
Leicester have undoubtedly enjoyed the upper hand against Plymouth so far this season, coming out on top in all three of their previous meetings. Whilst the Raiders have been getting incrementally closer to victory, Tim Williams and JR Holder have been on hand to deny them each time. Williams scored 22 points in the Riders quarter-final second-leg against Cheshire Phoenix and will need to be pressed early if the Raiders are to come out on top. Having already scored 36 points at the Pavilions earlier this season, Coach James will be more than aware of Williams’ talent and must prepare accordingly this time around.
Although their heroics in London should not be undermined, the Raiders must refocus quickly as they face another quick turnaround between games. A raucous Pavilions crowd would serve as the perfect antidote to any post-London fatigue and tickets are sure to be in high demand.
Secure your ticket today by visiting www.plymouthraiders.com/tickets. The game tips off at 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday the 8th of May. If you aren’t able to make it to the game you can keep up with all the latest news on Twitter @officialraiders.
Let’s go Raiders!