National Trophy preview: Critical penultimate weekend ahead
Hemel Storm v Tees Valley Mohawks
Saturday 13 October, 7pm, Sportspace
Before taking to the court in our Game of the Week
, Tees Valley face a tough test of their unbeaten start to the season with a trip to Hemel Storm.
Despite falling to defeat last weekend, Storm will still have an eye on finishing on top of Pool 1, but they will need a win against Mohawks if they are to do so.
Both teams should be set for the knockout stages of the Trophy, but neither will want to take a loss as they jostle for an 'easier' quarter final tie.
Leicester Warriors v Essex Leopards
Saturday 13 October, 3pm, Braunstone Leisure Centre
Brixton Topcats v Leicester Warriors
Sunday 14 October, 4pm, Brixton Rec
If Leicester Warriors are to make the quarter finals of the National Trophy they will need to start winning this weekend when they face a pair of games against London opponents.
On Saturday they host a 2-1 Essex Leopards team who they last met at last season's Final Fours in Manchester. Leopards won that contest 82-71 on the way to picking up their third piece of silverware on the season.
On Sunday they travel to the capital to face fellow winless team Brixton Topcats, with the losers almost certainly out of the race for the knockout stages.
Warriors have lost to Hemel and Tees Valley in the Trophy, but have made the third round of the National Cup.
Bristol Academy Flyers v Derby Trailblazers
Saturday 13 October, 7pm, SGS College
Bristol Flyers and Derby Trailblazers clash on Saturday in an early test of both teams' title credentials this season.
Flyers suffered an unexpected reversal at the hands of Reading Rockets last weekend to drop to 2-1 in the Trophy, whereas Trailblazers have defeated Westminster and Northumbria in their games.
This is a rematch of the 2011/12 Trophy final, which Derby won convincingly 87-60 in Leicester. The teams also met in the playoff semi-finals last season, which Derby also won, although Bristol won both Division 1 contests.
Derby assistant coach Steve Baxter commented on Bristol's recent past: "They have probably been the most consistent team in Division 1 over the last four or five years in terms of league position and they are perennially among the front runners in the league.
"I think that's at least in part down to their continuity, because most of their main guys have played together for a number of years and know each other inside out. They don't lose many games on their home court and so we need to be careful we don't let them dictate the tempo too much."
Team Northumbria v Leeds Carnegie
Saturday 13 October, 6pm, Sport Central
Westminster Warriors v Team Northumbria
Sunday 14 October, 4pm, Moberly
Team Northumbria complete their Trophy pool play this weekend by hosting Leeds Carnegie and travelling to Westminster Warriors.
Marc Steutel's charges have an outside shot at a quarter final spot as a pair of wins will even their record at 3-3 and will leave them waiting on other results.
Carnegie have won only one Trophy game this season, but their losses came by one point to Bradford and in overtime against Bristol. They would appear to be in good form after knocking Bradford out of the National Cup last weekend.
Warriors are yet to win against top division opposition this season, having lost Trophy games to Derby, Bradford and Leeds.
Essex Leopards v Worthing Thunder
Sunday 14 October, 4pm, Basildon Sporting Village
Essex Leopards complete their Trophy double-header weekend by hosting Worthing Thunder and Carl Josey (pictured) is looking for the team to improve defensively:
"This weekend is a big one to solidify our position in the Trophy table. I think the game against Reading this past weekend [in a friendly] has probably done us more good than bad because it's clear we have a lot of work to do.
"Our defence has to improve as letting any team score 30 in one quarter is unacceptable. I think offence will get better the more we play with each other but to be honest we have to become a defensive orientated team to be successful."
Leopards won all three contests against Thunder last season, including a Trophy quarter final victory at the Brentwood Centre.
Thunder forward Dominc Baker says the result at the weekend is not their only focus: "We’ll be playing a tough Essex team this weekend and they have two players I know that I have played with - Carl Josey, who played for Milton Keynes, and Taner Adu. They are both really tough, guard orientated players, but being honest, we're not worried about Leopards on Sunday, we're just thinking about mastering our sets and perfecting them for the season ahead."
Derby Trailblazers v Reading Rockets
Sunday 14 October, 4pm, Moorways
After facing the team that they defeated in the final last season on Saturday, Derby Trailblazers complete their weekend by hosting the team that they defeated in last season's semi final.
If Trailblazers escape the weekend unscathed they will be in prime position to defend their title with games against Leeds and Bradford next weekend to complete their pool schedule.
Derby assistant coach Steve Baxter is wary of the threat posed by Rockets: "The match against Reading will be another really tough matchup for us. They have retained a lot of their core players from last year and supplemented them with some excellent talent, so I expect them to be stronger than they were last season.
"They are also quite a big team so we will need to focus on our internal defence and rebounding. Reading are quite methodical in their approach; they execute really well and don't waste many possessions. In addition, they are one of the best prepared teams in the league and know what they need to do to take their opponents out of their rhythm."
Rockets have just the one Trophy game this weekend after a 74-52 victory over Bracknell Cobras in the second round of the Cup on Thursday evening.
Bradford Dragons v Bristol Academy Flyers
Sunday 14 October, 4:15pm, Bradford College
Bradford Dragons will look to secure a spot in the last eight on the National Trophy on Sunday when they host Bristol Flyers.
Currently sitting at 3-0, a win against Andreas Kapoulas' side will ensure that Dragons make the Trophy quarter finals for the second consecutive season.
Head coach Chris Mellor is complimentary of the Bristol set-up: "Bristol have been able to keep the main core of their team together which really helps from season to season. They also produce players from their academy programme which is a testament to their coaching staff.
Dragons forward Denis Scott isn't content to settle after his team's good start: "We could do a lot better on defense. I think that we are still too timid and we are not playing to our full potential."