Plymouth Raiders may be hoping for a thumping win against Mersey Tigers in the British Basketball League this Friday, leaving no chance of another edgy encounter.
The last three fixtures involving the Raiders have been extremely tight affairs, ending with no more than four points between the victors and losers. Unfortunately for Plymouth, more often than not they were on the receiving end of these defeats, including a visit to London Lions and a narrow three point home loss to league leaders Newcastle Eagles.
No such chance of that happening this weekend. Plymouth are back on track, turning their close encounters around with an 86-82 win against second placed Leicester Riders on Sunday. They travel further north to Liverpool and an encouraging match against the league’s whipping boys. Mersey Tigers are yet to pick up a win in 14 games and won’t be likely to revive a poor season against a side with a 9-5 winning record so far this year. It’s the first meeting between the two sides this season, with an identical fixture occurring in January, but the Raiders shouldn’t be worried about any surprises. They will, however, want to avoid their recent trend of struggling to close out a match – Mersey will be happy to snap up any lingering chances for a solitary win to end the year.
Another team with a fairly easy Friday game is Newcastle Eagles, who welcome Manchester Giants to their Sport Central ground. Since their shock loss to Worcester Wolves at the beginning of the month, the Eagles have won three matches on the bounce, including a 94-71 away to London last week and are clear favourites to win this weekend. They need to be cautious, though, against a resurgent side that have won their last two tight matches with Cheshire Phoenix and Durham Wildcats. As Leicester Riders are taking a weekend off, a win for Newcastle would send them four points clear at the top, having played two games more. A third successive win for the Giants will move them above Sheffield Sharks into ninth.
The only other Friday fixture is a true mid-table clash between London Lions and Glasgow Rocks. The visitors will be in high spirits after thumping Mersey 109-72 on Sunday, but it was a minor high point in a month that has seen them lose three times in a row and none of them were remotely close. The Lions have been scoring freely but haven’t always got the results, so the game could go either way. For the Rocks’ sake, it needs to go theirs if they don’t want to throw away what was a promising position a couple of weeks ago.