BBL Cup basketball comes to the new Emirates Arena for the first time on Sunday as the Rocks host Manchester Giants.
With the Giants making their BBL debut this season, it will be the first meeting between the sides, and Rocks’ player-coach Sterling Davis is expecting a tough game: “I think they have really put together a solid group of guys who have some good BBL experience which has helped them get off to a very solid start.
“It looks like James Jones is really having a breakout year. He has been deadly from the outside and complimented by David Watts they will be a good tandem.”
The Rocks made their debut at their new arena last week, and Davis was clearly disappointed with their display in a heavy loss against old rivals Newcastle Eagles: “It was a very frustrating game in that I felt we prepared well for what they like to do and the combinations that make them tick but in the final quarter just completely had a mental lapse and they capitalised on it.
“Charles Smith shot the ball extremely well for them but the big boost in my opinion came from Kareem Maddox who had a breakout game.”
Davis rejected the idea that the 5,000 crowd and the occasion caused his team to freeze in last week’s game: “You always want to win every game at home and especially your home opener. I don’t think it was necessarily the ‘occasion’ as in the new venue and everything that came along with it that got to us but more just our concentration for the entire game. I think if we were flustered by the whole ordeal, it would have shown earlier than the fourth quarter. It is always a big task to face Newcastle whether it be the first home game or a midseason game.”
Giants’ coach Jeff Jones has a good idea what his side will face north of the border: “Obviously they have some established and experienced players in Sterling [Davis], EJ [Harrison] and Gareth Murray. I have been a big EJ fan since his days at Teesside I think is one of the best guards that has played over here and offers them the leadership and direction on the floor that would help make any team better.
“As for Gareth, he is one of the best shooters in the league and his all round game has developed over the years making him an offensive threat in all aspects of the game and he brings a competitiveness and toughness with him every time he plays.
“The addition of [Keiron] Achara has given the very good quality big which gives them a presence on both ends of the floor.”
Jones is looking forward to his side’s first game in the BBL Cup: “The cup competitions are very important for us being a new team they give us an opportunity to make a run and give us more games. Having said that the trip to Glasgow will be really a tough challenge for us especially after the weekends disappointment at Newcastle and Plymouth. So really just getting an opportunity to put those games behind us and try and put a good performance and hopefully start moving in the right direction.”
After last weekend’s losses against Newcastle Eagles and UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders, Giants’ guard Stefan Gill is looking for an improvement when his side travel to Emirates Arena: “I’d say we had a glitch last week. We’re not going to win every game, but we set ourselves very high standards. We’re not just trying to make the play-offs, we want to be title contenders because we believe we’re good enough. So we have to be patient and iron out the kinks. It was a tough weekend, but if I could play those games again today, I would do because I believe we can beat both sides. We’re inconsistent at the moment, and we’re getting off to a slow starts. But there’s a risk of leaving it too late, so maybe we need to change our approach.”
Gill is ready for a difficult game in Glasgow: “It couldn’t get much tougher, they’ve just been beaten by Newcastle and they’ll want to rectify that. We’ve played against EJ [Harrison], Sterling [Davis] and Gareth Murray before, and they’ve just added a GB veteran in Keiron Achara. It should be a good match-up for both teams, and it’ll be good to play in the new arena.”
Tickets are still available for the game, so ROCK UP and show your support!