Patrons Cup preview: Division 2 Men get started
The Patrons Cup, a Division 2 Men’s competition, opens this weekend with five games being played around the country on Saturday.
Starting in the north of the country, Mansfield Giants host newly-promoted Loughborough Students Riders and Killamarsh Derbyshire Arrows entertain Birmingham Mets but the game between Manchester Magic and PAWS London Capital has been awarded to Magic due to PAWS' failure to register a team on time.
The Giants struggled at times last season, finishing ninth in the league and missing out on the Patrons semi finals, but player-coach Dan Richards always runs a solid program in Mansfield and never proves an easy win.
In Loughborough, Mansfield face a team who are coming up from Division 3 having finished second in the North section and advancing to the final of the National Shield.
2012 Patrons Cup finalists Arrows take on coach Steven Barnes' Birmingham Mets on Saturday in Derbyshire and they will hope to start strong in a competition they did so well in last season. Arrows lost to Hemel in the Patrons Cup final last season 73-70 and despite finishing sixth in Division 2, they advanced as far as the playoff semi finals.
Mets also had a solid outing in 2011/12, finishing fourth in the league.
As we move South, the only new team to Division 2 is Newham (NASSA) Neptunes but the move was well-earned as the club won the league, playoff and Men’s Shield titles last season in the third Division. NASSA play Team Solent on Saturday night at Sports Dock, the new venue where USA’s Men trained this summer during the Olympic Games.
London Westside play Glamorgan Gladiators at Kensington Leisure Centre on Saturday in Pool 1 of the Patrons Cup.
Westside were surprise playoff finalists last season in Division 2, after gaining the final playoff spot, and knocked off Hemel Storm and Derbyshire Arrows en-route to the final in Manchester.
Glamorgan finished third in Division 2 in 2011/12 thanks largely to the Player of the Year Greg Hernandez, however, the American forward signed with Division 1 club Essex Leopards in the off-season. Coach Steve Williams will have to reorganize his offence for a new-look Gladiators this season.
Finally, Eastside Eagles and London United-Harefield Academy meet at Walthamstow Academy at 6:15pm in a battle of two teams who missed out on playoff action last season.
Photo courtesy Alan Mousley