D1: Trailblazers get season underway with local derby in Trophy
Derby Trailblazers get the new basketball season underway for real this weekend, after a successful series of pre-season friendlies against American touring sides. Derby were unbeaten in all three games, as they sought to incorporate a number of new players into their systems.
Anchoring the Trailblazers back court will be Rema Lascelles, who returns to the side after four years at Hawaii Pacific University and returning guard Kayne King.
Among the other new faces are former professional tennis player and Trailblazers junior player Josh Ward-Hibbert, athletic forward Max Morrison, who previously played for Birmingham in division three and the previously unannounced Portuguese guard Julio Silva.
These new faces will be supplemented by Spanish twins Adria and Brian Amabilino Perez, Chris Taylor, Oli Stanley and George Calvey, all of whom return from last season’s team which finished as runners up in the division one title race.
The remaining places on the bench will be filled by promising Academy players, such as Martin Manchev, Callum Singleton and Connor Hersey.
D1 Fixtures & Roster: CLICK HERE
Speaking about the club’s final summer signing, Hanson-Morris had this to say:
“We're very fortunate to have landed Julio [Silva], who has moved into the Derby area to work for Toyota at their manufacturing plant in Burnaston. In our pre-season games, he managed to put himself in a lot of good positions, creating a lot of plays for us, but also impressed defensively.
“His high basketball IQ has allowed him to settle into our style of play quickly and he is going to be a valuable addition to our backcourt rotation for the season,” he said.
The Trailblazers begin the season with a pair of games in the newly restructured NBL Men’s Trophy, in which the fourteen division one clubs have been arranged into four groups of either three or four clubs.
For those teams like Derby, who are in one of the smaller groups, this means less games prior to the start of the league season, thereby emphasizing the importance of the recent pre-season friendlies against American touring sides.
Whilst it would easily be possible to treat Saturday’s game against Loughborough Student Riders this weekend and next weekend’s game against Leicester Warriors as being last-sixteen knock-out
games, the Trailblazers assistant coach Michael Hanson-Morris says it will be more about using the next two weeks to develop the team in readiness for the regular league season:
“We’re in a similar position to last season of being midway through implementing a new style and identity for the team and although this is a never a quick process, we’ve already made some great steps along the way. We’re hopeful of building a brand of basketball that people will enjoy watching week in week out.
“Although only four of our core group are new players, the games against the American touring teams were a really valuable and positive exercise for us. All three games provided a good level of competition.
“You never expect to see a complete performance in pre-season but I thought that in all three games, we managed to string together some decent periods where we played with a high intensity level which gives us a great platform to build from at both ends of the floor.
“Saturday’s game in particular was very pleasing, because we bounced back well from a poor final quarter on Friday night and managed to correct a lot of things which we had discussed before the third game,” he says.
Having previously worked for the Leicester Riders organisation for a period of three years, Hanson-Morris is ideally placed to assess Derby’s first opponents of the new season:
“We’re aware that Loughborough have lost some key players from last year, but they still have a large group of returnees and will no doubt be looking to build upon their successful promotion winning season, with the help of a few new players such as Alex Roberts and Daniel Hemmingway amongst others.
“They have a degree of continuity and confidence and so despite being a newly promoted side, I’m sure they will come into Division One with nothing to fear.
“Their team travelled to Norway as part of their pre-season programme last weekend and although they incurred double digit deficits in all three matches, they brought them all back to within five points in the latter stages of the first two games and went on to win the third match.
“That resilience and ability to just keep playing, regardless of whatever the score reads is something we need to replicate and build upon as we head into the new season.
“As much as the Trophy isn’t a priority for us this season, there is no doubt the players are excited to be playing competitive games again and hopefully we will keep continuing to improve our play at both ends of the floor and let our performance take priority over the actual result.
“It’s a little strange for me that my first game as an assistant coach with Derby takes place on the court my office used to overlook during three years with the Leicester Riders organisation; I just hope I head into the right set of locker rooms before the game,” he joked.
The senior men’s game is a 7pm tip-off at the Badminton and Netball Centre, Loughborough University, LE11 3TU.
The full line up of game for the weekend is as follows:
SATURDAY 24TH SEPTEMBER:
D1 Men: Loughborough Student Riders v Derby Trailblazers;
- 7pm at Loughborough University
U18M Prem: Derby Trailblazers v Manchester Giants;
- 2pm at Clarence Wiggins Sports Centre
U14 Girls: Derby Trailblazers v City of Sheffield Hatters;
- 12 Noon at Clarence Wiggins Sports Centre
SUNDAY 25TH SEPTEMBER:
U18M Conf: Derby Trailblazers (II) v Ilkeston Outlaws;
- 2:15pm at Clarence Wiggins Sports Centre
U16 Girls: Tameside Royals v Derby Trailblazers;
- 1pm at Alder Community High School
Live updates for most games can be found by following:
Game photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/derbytrailblazersbasketball/albums