Mersey Tigers and MK Lions meet for the first time this season on Friday evening, with both teams looking for a victory to strengthen their push for a play-off place.
The Tigers go into the weekend sitting ninth in the BBL Championship with a 2-7 record, while the Lions are seventh win four wins from ten games.
Mersey coach Tony Garbelotto is expecting the Lions to provide a stern test for his side: “I watched them a couple of weeks ago against Cheshire and they are very talented. They have size, depth, scoring and are very explosive.”
Demarius BoldsThe Londoner had a good idea who will pull the strings for the Lions: “Who can look pass Demarius Bolds [pictured]? He is a premier scorer in this league and one of the best players. I think he is as tough a cover as any player in this league.”
Having won three pieces of silverware in the 2010/11 season, Tigers’ new-look side have found it tough going this season, but Garbelotto still believes they can move up the BBL Championship table and has hinted at additions to his roster: “At present it is obvious that we have areas with our roster that we need to improve on. If we don’t do anything then we will be battling with Cheshire, Guildford and Durham for the last play off spot.
“What every team should be worried about though, is if we decided to sign three import players in the coming month. This would change the picture radically.”
Despite Tigers’ title-winning achievement last season, the Lions won the three-game series between the teams, with home court advantage proving key in all three of the match-ups. But it is the Tigers who lead the all-time series between the clubs 8-5.
After seeing his team go down 103-92 against Worcester Wolves last week, Lions’ point guard Stefan Gill was disappointed with their sixth Championship defeat of the season: “It didn’t go as we expected. We have been getting off to bad starts, and we weren’t able to bring it back in the second and third periods this time. It seems like we’re starting every game ten points down, and it’s frustrating. The good thing is we understand what we need to iron out. We had a great week of practice, and we felt we were ready, but it didn’t work out.”
Gill admits to having only limited knowledge of the Tigers team: “They are a new-look side, and I don’t know much about them. We know David Aliu and what he’s capable of, and he looks to be one of their main players, but our coach will do his homework on them. We have to make sure we don’t look at their record, we just have to go out and play them like any other professional team.”
Lions’ coach Mike New expect a tough game on Merseyside: “I haven’t had a chance to see Tigers play but coach Garbelotto will have them well organised and I’ve always liked [Myles] Hesson’s game when he is healthy. David Aliu and Kris Douse are playing well for them, and [Marlin] Capers is capable as well.”