Plymouth Raiders and Mersey Tigers meet for the second time in ten days on Sunday afternoon as the West Country side play their final BBL Championship game before next week’s BBL Cup final at the NIA.
The sides met on the same court in late December with the Raiders running out comfortable 102-82 winners, but coach Gavin Love is looking for a better performance this week:
“We gave a poor account of ourselves against the Tigers last week, I am looking for a huge improvement in our next meeting. James Jones was probably our most constituent performer over 40 minutes with Ant Martin having some big defensive plays in the final quarter.
“Myles Hesson had a good game for Mersey last week shooting the ball very well from deep. We need to play far better defensive for longer periods, I’m looking forward for a better team performance I felt we were a little too individual last week.”
The Raiders have two of the last season’s highly successful Tigers team on their roster, with James Jones recently being joined by Jamal Williams, and Plymouth’s newest recruit admitted that it was different to be facing his old side:
“It was strange for sure, I still have a couple of friends there in James Griffiths and Dave Aliu, plus of course there’s Tony [Garbelotto] and the coaching staff. It was a little difficult in that sense, but that’s the nature of the beast, people are always changing teams, and I landed on my feet when I was cut from Jets at the beginning of last season.”
Williams echoed his coach’s words when he admitted that Raiders did not play well against Tigers last week: “We didn’t have a good turnout, and it was one of those ugly games, but one you have to get it out of system and move on from here.
“This week need more energy and need to be focussed on what we have to get done. Maybe we were dwelling on the idea of who we were playing rather than doing what we have to do to be successful. No matter where they are in the table, they’re in the BBL and they won’t be a pushover, we have to be focussed and consistent to achieve when we want to.”
Tigers’ coach Tony Garbelotto was also – understandably – disappointed after his side’s loss in Plymouth: “We played well for almost three quarters and then had a one minute melt down. We were up five and before we knew it we were down five and never recovered. I don’t think we have enough size or depth but I would have liked to have gone deep into the fourth [period] before they pulled away.”
Garbelotto had praise for former Tiger Jones: “James Jones does what only myself and a few others understand, he won a game without actually playing well offensively. He understands how to break up opponents sets, disrupts timing and spaces and cuts on the offensive end. I thought the real other key player was Anthony Martin. He is a starter on almost any other BBL team, so when Jeremy Bell was having an off night he came through in a big, big way.”