D1: Trailblazers aim to shoot down Rockets
After their brief excursion into the BBL Trophy in which they acquitted themselves well against Premier League opposition, Derby Trailblazers return to NBL division one action on Saturday, with a home match against Reading Rockets.
It’s the start of a significant period for the Trailblazers, as four of their next five games are against teams who currently have three losses, one more than Derby, who remain second in the division one table, behind Manchester Magic.
After Rockets, Derby face Hemel at home next weekend, before travelling to Bradford and facing London Lituanica at home over the final weekend of January. They subsequently begin February with a trip to Lituanica, who have suffered just home defeat in the last three seasons.
Assistant Coach Steve Baxter therefore believes the next few games will go a long way to determining how successful Derby’s season will become:
“This is the start of a really important period for us. We play a number of teams in and around our position in the league, so we can expect some very difficult games, starting with the visit of Reading on Saturday.
“The Rockets have once again assembled a very strong squad. They are one of the teams who perennially challenge for honours and I don’t expect this season to be any different. They have brought in two rookie Americans who look like very good players, but such is their strength in depth, neither of them were in their starting five in a recent game.
“Also added to last year’s squad are veteran Dave Ajumobi, 6’9 former GB U20 international Ben Allison and athletic young forward Wayne Yeboah.
“Ajumobi has previously played for London Mets, Leeds Carnegie, Brixton and most recently Essex Leopards, where he won the league last season. Allison attended university in America alongside reigning NBA MVP Steph Curry and has already had a big impact in the few games he has played, while Yeboah averaged twenty points per game for NASSA in division one last year.
“Perhaps their most important player is their captain Dan Carter, who is a player you cannot help but admire. A bit like Dan Watts for us, he seems to do whatever he is needed for his team. He can score, pass, rebound and play good defense. He has the ability to score inside or out and we have to do a good job of limiting his effectiveness.
“Reading are very athletic and will have a distinct height advantage over us. They rebound the ball well at both ends and we must, as a team, compete with them on missed shots. If we allow multiple chances for them to score then, they will become a very difficult team to beat.
“Coach Manuel Pena Garces always has his teams well prepared and I am sure he has watched a fair few of our game tapes. We too have watched a fair few of their games so both teams know what to expect of one another.
“Last weekend we lost both our games but to put this into context, this was against league leaders Manchester, who have now won 19 of their last 20 games and against the fully professional BBL team Sheffield Sharks, against whom we put up a great fight.
“We can certainly take heart from both those performances, as we competed for the majority of both games. Our new signing Chris Taylor demonstrated what a good addition to the squad he will become and that’s important, as we’re still likely to be without Reiss Harwood because of a knee injury,” he said.
Saturday’s game at home to Reading Rockets is a 7:15pm tip-off at the Clarence Wiggins Sports Hall, Noel-Baker School in Alvaston. Supporters are also invited to join the team after the game at The Lodge Flaming Grill Pub, on Grange Road, Alvaston.
The full line up of game for the weekend is as follows:
D1 Men: Derby Trailblazers v Reading Rockets; 7:15pm at Clarence Wiggins Sports Hall
U18 NP Men: Newcastle Eagles v Derby Trailblazers; 12:00pm at St Cuthbert High School
U16 MDL Boys: Northants Thunder v Derby Trailblazers; 11:45am at Northants Basketball Centre
U14 MDL Boys: Leicester Warriors v Derby Trailblazers II; 12:00 at Gateway College
Men’s NEDL: Derby Trailblazers III v Nottingham Hoods II; 2:15pm at Clarence Wiggins Sports Hall
U14 NP Boys: Derby Trailblazers v Manchester Giants; POSTPONED
Live updates for most games can be found by following www.facebook.com/derbytrailblazersclub or @derbyblazers on Twitter. All the latest news is also online at www.derbytrailblazers.com
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