D1: Trailblazers aiming for Cup success over Manchester Magic
Two of the country’s most in-form teams will meet at the Clarence Wiggins Sports Hall on Saturday, as Derby Trailblazers host Manchester Magic, with a place in the Final of the Men’s National Cup up for grabs.
Derby are unbeaten in nine games, while prior to last weekend, Manchester were on a sixteen game winning streak across all competitions. However, their impressive run came to a halt last Sunday, when London Lituanica ground out a 79-77 away win at the Amaechi Centre.
Despite that defeat, the Trailblazers Assistant Coach Steve Baxter believes his side are still very much the underdogs:
“Going into the season, I think it’s fair to say Manchester were seen by many people as being the team most likely to enjoy success. They have an incredible pedigree, having won many different titles at different levels over many years.
“They’re also a bit of a bogey team for us, having beaten us more times than not. They’ve knocked us out of the National Cup at the quarterfinal stage in each of the previous two seasons and they beat us in the semi-finals of the play-offs last season.
“They have a great set-up and they’re something of a powerhouse in youth basketball in the UK, having developed a number of great young players.
“We’re under no illusions that it isn’t going to be tough on Saturday night. We played them in the Pool Stage of the Men’s Trophy earlier this season and gave a good account of ourselves despite not having a full team available. Despite that, we only lost by eight points, so we go into the game with nothing to fear.
“Yes, we’re the underdogs, but we’re at home and we’ve had some really good and very loud support at home in recent weeks. There’s no pressure on us, because we didn’t start out expecting to win Cups and Trophies this season in the way they probably did,” he said.
For Nottinghamshire born David TinTin Watts, Manchester is a place he’s called home for many years, having played for both the Magic in Division One and Manchester Giants in the BBL Premier League.
The 6’9” forward is keen to beat his former side, even though the current set up bears few similarities to when he was turning out on court at the Amaechi Centre:
“A lot has changed since I was there. They have different coaching, different structures and different players, but I would love to get a win against them. We’re on a fantastic run and it would be great if we could keep it going.
“Despite our winning record, I still think we’re under performing and have a lot more to give. If we can take the kind of basketball we’re currently playing for around twenty-five minutes a game and produce that for the whole forty minutes, we could be really, really good.
“People have asked me if I have any inside knowledge, but I really don’t think I have. Lee Goldsbrough is the only guy who was playing there when I was, but we’re all good friends off the court. However, come Saturday night, we won’t be showing any signs of friendship; we’ll be going all out to win,” he said.
Whatever the eventual outcome of the match, Baxter is confident the Trailblazers will learn from the experience:
“For us, it’s all about building something and developing our younger players. We have the second youngest roster in the country.
“Six of players are still Academy scholars and two more are first year graduates, so we have four eighteen year olds and two sixteen year olds playing at the second highest level in British basketball.
“To me, that’s a hugely impressive achievement and shows what a great job our Academy programme is doing,” he said.
Saturday’s game at home to Manchester Magic in the Semi-Final of the Men’s National Cup is a 7:15pm tip-off at the Clarence Wiggins Sports Hall. After the game, supporters are welcome to join the players at The Lodge, Flaming Grill Pub, Grange Road in Alvaston.
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The full schedule of games for the weekend is as follows:
Men’s Cup SF: Derby Trailblazers v Manchester Magic; 7:15pm at Clarence Wiggins Sports Hall.
D3 Men: Mansfield Giants v Derby Trailblazers; 6:15pm at Oaktree Leisure Centre
U18 PN: Leeds Allerton High School Force v Derby Trailblazers; 5:00pm at LBU Arena
U16 Boys: Mansfield Giants v Derby Trailblazers; 12:15pm at Oaktree Leisure Centre
U14 Girls: Leeds Force v Derby Trailblazers; 11:30pm at Roundhay High School
U16 Boys Cup: Derby v Trafford Magic; 4:15pm at Clarence Wiggins Sports Hall (Cup R4)
U14 PN: Derby Trailblazers v City of Birmingham; 2:15pm at Clarence Wiggins Sports Hall
U14 MDL: Derby Trailblazers II v Leicester Dynamite; 12:15pm at Clarence Wiggins Sports Hall
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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