The action starts early for the EBL Division One men's competition this
week with play-off hopefuls Solent Stars travelling to third placed
Reading Rockets on Thursday evening. With Rockets outside title chances
ending with two defeats against London United in eight days, Matt
Johnson's team will be looking to secure third spot and home court
advantage in the play-off quarter-finals, while for Stars it is a chance
to use their game in hand to move level on points with eighth placed
Essex & Herts Leopards.
Stars face another tough task on Saturday night when they entertain
second placed London United in a game the visitors cannot afford to lose
if they are to snatch the title from City of Sheffield Arrows.
Sheffield are involved in arguably the game of the weekend as they
travel to in-form Worcester Wolves. With the addition of point-guard
Matt Collins, Wolves have started 2005 strongly, reeling off six
straight victories to move up to fourth place, and with little love lost
between the two sides after a dispute regarding the staging of the
National Trophy semi-final, it should be close affair. The game sees two
of the league's leading players up against each other; Arrows' Ryan
Patton leads the league in points per game (29.64), assists (6.64) and
steals (4.21), while Wolves' Ty Shaw tops the rebounding charts at both
ends of the floor.
There will be a battle for home court advantage in the play-offs at
Teesside where the home-town Mohawks host Manchester Magic, with both
sides looking to put some inconsistent form behind them, while Worthing
will aim to end a run of three straight defeats when they travel to
relegation threatened Coventry Crusaders.
Essex & Herts Leopards will be without Coach Jon Burnell and forward
Mark Quashie when they travel to Kingston looking for revenge against
the Wildcats following a shock 74-68 defeat against them at Brentwood in
January. Even without Quashie, Leopards should have too much size
against a side who have won only one other game this season, boasting
the leagues two leading shot-blockers in Troy Selvey and Roger Lloyd.
Sunday sees Worthing Thunder aim to become the first side to beat London
United twice this season when they travel to Brunel University for the
semi-final of the National Trophy. Thunder hammered United 102-89 in the
National Cup, but with United having home court advantage and the easier
game on Saturday, Jack Majewski's side will be favourites to progress to
meet Sheffield in the final.
In the women's league, Rhondda Rebels will be looking to record the
first of four wins they need from their remaining six games to tie up
the Division One title. Last week's victory against second placed
Sheffield Hatters has put Rebels in firm control of their destiny, and
they should have little trouble with a side they have already beaten by
36 points this season.
Second placed Hatters host fourth placed Manchester Mystics, while
Solent Stars will continue their search for a top two spot when they
travel to seventh placed Brixton on Sunday.