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BBL Weekend Preview

Play-off spots could be sealed by UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders and Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders this weekend.

Play-off spots could be sealed by UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders and Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders this weekend.

The duo are both still in the title hunt and they have the opportunity to mathematically rubber-stamp their respective play-off places and join Newcastle Eagles and Worcester Wolves as having secured qualification.

It looks like the Raiders have the most realistic chance of coming up trumps since they entertain struggling Cheshire Jets at the Pavilions tonight whereas Riders return to Sport Central.

They face the league leaders just a week after they were mauled in comprehensive fashion although even Newcastle Eagles’ club captain Andrew Bridge (pictured) recognises the visitors will pose a bigger threat this time around.

He said, “We need to play good defence in transition again.

“When they (Riders) get out and run, they’re a good team but we did a decent job of slowing them down.

“They missed a lot of shots and ones they’ll make on another night so it will be difficult.”

If Riders improve their shot percentage then they could upset the hosts but even if they don’t come away from Tyneside with the victory, a success at Kelvin Hall on Sunday afternoon against Glasgow Rocks and other results going their way could still mean confirmation of a play-off place.

However, the match-up with the Rocks is also a tough challenge for Rob Paternostro and his team since the Scottish side are the only team outside of the breakaway top-four who still have a positive win-loss record.

Both the Eagles and Raiders will of course have one eye fixed firmly on Sunday’s BBL Trophy first leg clash in Devon and consequently they won’t want to go into that showpiece game having slipped up in the BBL Championship this evening.

Elsewhere, the scramble to finish in the top eight continues with a big weekend in store for Mersey Tigers in particular. They have a critical double-header against their play-off rivals which is likely to go a long way to determining whether they make the post-season as they have ground to make up.

Tonight they host Guildford Heat and will be hoping for a repeat of their success at Surrey Sports Park early last month while on Sunday, it’s the not so small matter of a north-west derby with Cheshire Jets – a game guaranteed to be explosive and full of the usual talking points.

Additionally, if Raiders slip-up against Jets and Riders lose at the Eagles but win at Rocks, it would take a win-double by Tigers to help the pair still punch their ticket so their results will be the most pivotal of the weekend in the BBL Championship.

Last but not least, Prestige Homes MK Lions have a lot to lose, but also to gain in their Sunday afternoon clash at home to One Health Sharks Sheffield. Mike New’s team occupy the last play-off spot but both Cheshire Jets and Mersey Tigers are waiting to pounce in what is building up to be yet another thrilling finale to the regular season.

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