National Trophy preview: Champions Derby enter the fray
As well as our Game of the Week
, there are five other contests in the National Trophy this weekend, with the reigning champions entering the fray.
Derby Trailblazers v Westminster Warriors
Saturday 22 September, 7:30pm, Moorways
Derby Trailblazers begin their defence of the National Trophy with a home fixture against Westminster Warriors on Saturday.
Both teams were off last weekend and will want to begin their 2012/13 season in good style.
Derby went through last season's National Trophy unbeaten, defeating Leeds, Reading and Bristol in the knockout stages to add the Trophy to their silverware cabinet alongside the Division 1 title they won in 2009/10.
There will be no Rishi Kakad or Troy Whittington in the Trailblazers line-up this season, but they will plan to be in contention once again come the end of the season.
Warriors struggled through a difficult campaign in 2011/12, winning just three league games and failing to make the quarter finals in either the Cup or the Trophy. They will hope that their young roster has improved with experience as they look to improve in 2012/13.
Hemel Storm v Leicester Warriors
Saturday 22 September, 7pm, Sportspace
Hemel Storm began their life in Division 1 last week with a comfortable 90-62 win at Brixton Topcats and they will look to maintain that momentum as they face Leicester Warriors at Sportspace on Saturday.
Warriors had their game against Worthing Thunder abandoned last weekend after Thunder's Hank Rivers dunked the ball so hard in the second quarter that the ring broke away from the backboard and with no replacement on site, the game was not able to continue.
Warriors were evenly poised with Thunder at the time of the stoppage, so at the very least will be battle ready for a trip to Hertfordshire.
Dru Spinks led Hemel in scoring last week and he also had a good game (with 16 points) when Storm knocked Warriors out of the National Cup last season at the Last 16 stage.
Worthing Thunder v Medway Park Crusaders
Saturday 22 September, 7:30pm, Worthing Leisure Centre
The two southern-most teams in Division 1 meet on Saturday as Worthing Thunder host Medway Park Crusaders in a National Trophy pool game.
Due to Thunder's abandonment last weekend neither team has recorded a game played this season and each will be looking to start their season in good fashion.
Both teams have undergone numerous changes since last season, including in the head coach position. Thunder have already expressed a commitment
to focusing on homegrown talent this year under new coach Daniel Hildreth and Crusaders have a new batch of Canadian-born players (Manock Lual, Cole Hobin and Jamie Searle) under new head coach Craig Nicol.
The sides avoided each other in the Trophy last season, but Worthing came out on top in both league clashes. The second game was dominated by Hank Rivers as he scored 32 points and grabbed 18 rebounds.
Tees Valley Mohawks v Brixton Topcats
Saturday 22 September, 5pm, University of Teeside
A cursory glance at last weekend's results would suggest that Tees Valley Mohawks will be favourites on Saturday as they take to the court against Brixton Topcats.
Mohawks started their season with a 83-81 victory over Essex Leopards last weekend, whereas Topcats were hammered by Hemel Storm on Sunday.
At this early stage of the season though, it is unwise to read too much into one result and Brixton will see the trip to Middlesbrough as an ideal opportunity to right the ship and set their stall out for the coming season.
They will no doubt focus on Mohawks' trio of twenty point scorers from last weekend - Jamie Kohn, Jorge Ebanks, David Hanson - as they look to level both teams' records in the competition at 1-1.
Tees Valley coach Steve Butler is expecting Brixton to pose a threat: "What we need to do this weekend is prepare exactly the same, whenever you play Brixton Topcats you know its going to be a very tough game as they are usually very athletic around the boards, their transistion is good and their play tough defensively throughout the 40 minutes. After last weekend's tough defeat to Hemel I know their coach will have them ready to play this weekend."
Hanson had praise for his coach, but knows there is room for improvement in his team: "Coach got it exactly right last week against Leopards and he has told us a lot about Brixton so we know what we have to do. Our transistion from defence to offense needs to improve as we missed too many easy shots around the basket last week, but we are ready for Brixton and I hope we can get our second win of the season."
Bradford Dragons v Leeds Carnegie
Saturday 22 September, 6:15pm, Bradford College
Bradford Dragons get their 2012/13 season underway with a local derby against Leeds Carnegie in the National Trophy.
Dragons return a similar looking side to the team that finished sixth in their debut season in Division 1 last year. Vance Silcott, Bobby Edmunds, Rihards Sulcs and Daumants Pabrieza are all back for another season as Dragons look to build on an impressive term last time around.
Leeds began their season last week with an overtime loss to Bristol Flyers - having been up by double digits early in the game. New signing Rob Marsden led them in scoring with 15 points.
Bradford head coach Chris Mellor is keen for the season to start: "It should be a good local derby with West Yorkshire bragging rights on the line. It all stems from defense for us, if we can get back in transition, do well rebounding and keep them out on the perimeter we'll have a good chance."