NBL Division One preview - Week 13 (21/22 December 2019)

We're nearly at the end of another decade of NBL Division One action, but there's still the small matter of five games that take place tomorrow, including yet another tough test for Solent's unbeaten run.

Game of the Week

Thames Valley Cavaliers (9-3) v Team Solent Kestrels (12-0)

An exciting prospect to finish the year (and no cracker puns in sight), Solent's trip to Thames Valley is a highly anticipated affair between two strong sides sure to put on a show.

Of the four 2nd place sides on 18 points, the Cavs are the only team Solent are yet to face, already defeating Hemel, Worthing and Reading this year. No team has found a way to solve the Kestrels so far, with Hemel also taking a crack at Coach Guymon's side in the National Cup to no avail.

In reigning D1M Player of the Week Martelle McLemore (25.9ppg) and American Taylor Johnson (25.8), Thames Valley have the 3rd and 4th top scorers in D1M, with Blayne Freckleton (3.2 triples, 5.5 assists per game) and Abdoulaye Sylla (a D1M leading 13.6rpg) also helping to shape a formidable core.

The hosts will need that production if they're going to mount a charge on their opponents tomorrow, Solent have been the toughest side to play defensively in D1M this season. Their 64.25 points against per game is nearly 20 points better than the next closest team in Loughborough (82.0ppg), showing just how dominant the Kestrels have been at that end of the floor.

That said, no team scores more points per game in D1M that the Cavs, notching up an impressive 102.75 per outing. Something has to give tomorrow, and it'll no doubt be a great contest as we find out which side comes out on top.

Elsewhere in D1M

In what could easily have been game of the week had Thames Valley and Solent not been on the schedule, Hemel Storm (9-3) play host to Reading Rockets (9-3) in a battle between two sides tied for 2nd place. A lot could hinge on Mike Williams injury status as he left Hemel's Cup loss to Solent last weekend with a game ending injury, whilst Reading will no doubt lean on Nick Richards (21.8ppg) once again.

Derby Trailblazers (6-5) will look to try and finish 2019 on a high after a mixed set of results. A home tie with Westminster (3-9) should provide them with plenty of opportunity to make that happen, the Warriors have now lost five in a row and all six of their road games this season.

Before last week's loss to Solent, Nottingham Hoods (4-8) had quietly built themselves a three game winning streak to appease a slow start to the season. A trip to Merseyside tomorrow to face a struggling Liverpool (2-10) could help the Hoods get back to winning ways before the turn of the year.

Likewise, Essex and Herts Leopards (1-10) could use some points before wrapping up their 2019 schedule. With a solitary win to their name against Liverpool, coach Baker's side have shipped over 97 points per game so far. That might not be a good omen as the Leopards head to Leicester tomorrow to play the Warriors (5-7) and D1M 2nd top scorer T.J. Henderson (26.2ppg)

Full fixtures and stats

Saturday 21 December 2019

3:00pm - Leicester Warriors v Essex & Herts Leopards - LIVE STATS
5:00pm - Liverpool v Nottingham Hoods - LIVE STATS
6:00pm - Thames Valley Cavaliers v Team Solent Kestrels - LIVE STATS
7:00pm - Hemel Storm v Reading Rockets - LIVE STATS
7:15pm - Derby Trailblazers v Westminster Warriors - LIVE STATS

Main image credit - Gravis Visuals/Thames Valley Cavaliers