PREVIEW - Top of the table clash in the WNBL highlights a busy weekend!

NBL Division One

 Team Newcastle v Reading Rockets 

Saturday 23 February 2019 - 3.00pm

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Team Newcastle tip off a jam-packed NBL Division One schedule this weekend when they open their home double-header by hosting the Reading Rockets. Coach Ian Hewitt will be hoping for improved performances after a disappointing back-to-back a week ago, which saw the North East side drop two games. Newcastle dropped a close one on the road at Leicester on Saturday, before falling to a dominant performance away at Team Solent Kestrels; likely to be very pleased to be back on the comforts of their home floor. 

Meanwhile, Reading head into this one coming off a much-improved performance as they picked up a commanding win over Bradford after a tough run of form. Having fallen to seventh in the standings, Coach Alan Keane and his side will need to carry forward the momentum gained in the win over the Dragons if they are to pick up the results needed to climb the table once again to grab a better spot in the post-season seedings. 


 Leicester Warriors v Thames Valley Cavaliers 

Saturday 23 February 2019 - 3.00pm

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Back on their home floor after a key victory over Team Newcastle a week ago, the Leicester Warriors can breathe a little easier after recent weeks have put some space between the bottom two and their current ninth ranked spot. Now three wins clear of the drop zone and just one result away from a playoff spot, Coach Karl Brown and the Warriors' sights will be firmly set on those above them to see if they can secure a berth into the post-season.

Their visitors making the trip from West London are a Thames Valley Cavaliers side that split their home and away back-to-back with Loughborough Riders last weekend, grabbing victory on the road, but losing on their home floor. Coach Robert Banks will hope his team can head up to the East Midlands and replicate their success from a week ago, as the NBL Division One debutants hope to continue their run to a top four finish.


 Essex Leopards v Worthing Thunder 

Saturday 23 February 2019 - 6.00pm

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The Essex Leopards were on of the teams to pinch a road win in an exciting weekend of close games a week ago, when they travelled to Hemel for an all-East Region derby that went their way. Returning to their home floor this weekend at the Essex Sport Arena, Coach Thomas Baker and his squad will be up for this game - with a win seeing the Big Cats draw level with the teams tied for third place in the standings. 

The visitors making the trip out to Colchester are a Worthing Thunder side that enjoyed back-to-back wins in their double-header weekend last week, including a crucial home victory over Team Solent. The Sussex-based squad followed up that win with a solid performance to down Barking Abbey on the road, as they put themselves in the top spot in the standings - for now. Worthing have amassed one more loss than their south coast rivals, and with the Kestrels' holding the head-to-head advantage, the Thunder will need to stay perfect down the stretch to give themselves a chance. 


 Bradford Dragons v Hemel Storm 

Saturday 23 February 2019 - 6.15pm

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The woes continued for Bradford last weekend as they were downed on the road by a commanding performance from the Reading Rockets, leaving Coach Chris Mellor's squad still winless throughout 2019 thus far. With Dragons' fans hoping that this tough run of form is now behind them, the West Yorkshire side return home to battle with 12th placed Hemel Storm. The last time these two sides met, the Dragons were able to pick up a dominant 30 point blowout victory, as the blew away the Storm with an impressive first half showing. 

Despite impressive outings new signing TrayVonn Wright, in recent weeks Hemel have been unable to get the job done and pick up the wins they need to ensure survival in Division One. Having added to the tally of single-digit losses for Coach Robert Youngblood last weekend with a two point deficit against Essex, their season of narrow misfortunate has continued, but a renewed confidence can be taken from some of the individual efforts that have kept the Hertfordshire-based in games down the stretch. In a double-header weekend that includes an encounter with Team Solent, Coach Youngblood will likely be looking at this matchup in Yorkshire as their best chance to pick up points. 


 Derby TrailblazersTeam Solent Kestrels 

Saturday 23 February 2019 - 7.15pm

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The first of the two late games on Saturday night sees Derby Trailblazers play host to the Kestrels, with the hosts riding high - currently on a five-game win streak. A solid performance on their home floor last weekend saw the Blazers pick up the points against Barking Abbey, as the East Midlands squad climbed back up into the top four. They will need to bring their best to give themselves a chance against a strong Kestrels side, having fallen by 30+ points on the road back in November.

Meanwhile, Coach Matt Guymon's Solent squad will be disappointed to have dropped just their third game of the league season last weekend when they picked up a single point loss away at the Thunderdome against Worthing. Having crucially protected their head-to-head advantage over their south coast rivals, the Southampton-based side have the breathing room of being able to drop another game down the stretch this season, but will head into their remaining ties looking to stay perfect to regain their spot atop the league standings. 


 Nottingham McDonalds Hoods v Loughborough Riders 

Saturday 23 February 2019 - 7.30pm

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The final game of a busy Saturday night in NBL Division One sees an all-East Midlands encounter taking place at Wildcats Arena, as the Hoods and Riders take to the floor. The hosts are coming off a narrow win against basement side Manchester Magic, as the North West pushed Nottingham right to the end with a solid run late on. However, it was the Hoods who took the points on their home floor, improving to 9-9 on the season and holding onto the eighth spot. 

Meanwhile, Loughborough's mixed weekend in a home and away double-header against Thames Valley saw them split the games; each side dropping their home tie across the two days. The National Cup champions continue to position themselves for a late run at a top four finish in the league, with just the third highest loss tally and holding games in hand on the squads above them in the table. With plenty of games to be played down the stretch, look for Coach Mark Jarram's side to make a run and climb the table as we enter the business end of the season.


 Nottingham McDonalds Hoods v Derby Trailblazers 

Sunday 24 February 2019 - 3.00pm

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Completing their all-East Midlands home-and-home double-header weekend, the Hoods return to Wildcats Arena on Sunday for a matinee game against Derby Trailblazers. After a late encounters against Loughborough and Solent, respectively, the two East Midlands teams will be pleased to not have to travel far for the second game of their back-to-backs, as two potentially playoff-bound teams battle it out for local bragging rights. The Blazers will hope to avenge their loss to Nottingham earlier in the season, when Cole Welle dropped 27 points to spur the Hoods to victory. 


 Team Newcastle v Thames Valley Cavaliers 

Sunday 24 February 2019 - 3.00pm

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Two more teams completing their weekend double-headers sees Team Newcastle continue their home stand as they welcome Thames Valley on Sunday. The Cavs continue their road trip after an away game at Leicester on Saturday, heading to the North East for a Sunday afternoon encounter with the 13th placed Newcastle side. The West London side head into their double-header weekend as heavy favourites on paper, but will need to bring it on the floor to pick up the results they need to maintain their top three position in the standings. 


 Loughborough Riders v Manchester Magic 

Sunday 24 February 2019 - 4.00pm

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After a short road trip across the East Midlands to Nottingham on Saturday evening, the Riders return to their home floor on Sunday to host Manchester Magic, as the league's basement side head into another tough matchup. Having challenged Nottingham all the way to the end of the game a week ago, Coach Simon Fisher's side will have added confidence, but they travel to face a top six Loughborough side that has its eyes set on a top four finish - looking to climb the table down the stretch. The last time these two sides faced off, at the Manchester Basketball Centre, the Riders exploded in the second quarter on their way to a blowout win. 


 Bradford Dragons v Leicester Warriors 

Sunday 24 February 2019 - 4.15pm

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After a disappointing run of losses, the Bradford Dragons head into a home-and-home double-header which will give them two cracks at picking up points this weekend - with both ties against fellow bottom half teams. With their Saturday encounter against Hemel potentially crucial in the relegation race, their Sunday matchup with Leicester is looking to be a little tougher, looking at the Warriors' recent uptick in form. Meanwhile, the visitors follow up their home tie against the Cavaliers with this road trip to West Yorkshire, with Thames Valley having potentially put an end to their recent momentum. 


 Hemel Storm v Team Solent Kestrels 

Sunday 24 February 2019 - 5.00pm

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The final game of a very busy NBL Division One weekend sees Hemel Storm return to their home floor in front of the Stormtroopers, following their road game at Bradford on Saturday night. With both sides having racked up the miles on the M1, with Solent having travelled to Derby on Saturday night, the hosts in this one will need to refocus on Sunday evening - as the Kestrels will be looking to pick up back-to-back wins to regain their top spot in the standings. 


WNBL Division One

 Anglia Ruskin University v Bristol Academy Flyers 

Saturday 23 February 2019 - 4.00pm

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Potentially the game of the weekend across the NBL, Saturday afternoon sees a top of the table clash in WNBL Division One when Anglia Ruskin play host to Bristol. The Rhinos' plight to make a run at the top spot went awry last weekend when they dropped a road game at Team Solent Kestrels by just three points, after a dominant comeback late on. Coach Michael Hanson-Morris' side will hope to rebound in this one, needing a big performance to down a strong league-leading Flyers squad. 

Meanwhile, Bristol picked up two crucial wins last weekend as they faced a tough double-header of action that sternly tested their league-leading status. A narrow win over National Cup runners-up Reading Rockets on Saturday was followed by heading on the road to Team Solent on Sunday and grabbing another closely fought victory. The Flyers top the standings with a 12-2 record, but heading on the road to third-placed Anglia Ruskin will another tough test in their plight to capture the league title. 


 Southwark Pride v Team Solent Kestrels 

Saturday 23 February 2019 - 4.00pm

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With no game last weekend to continue their good form, Southwark Pride will be looking back to their impressive win over cross-capital rivals Barking Abbey a fortnight ago, as Coach Jackson Gibbons looks to rediscover that form. Megan Haines has had an impressive season thus far, and added to her resume as one of the top young guards in the league with a 20 point performance in that one - followed up by another eye-catching display in the WEABL. Holding the sixth position with a 7-7 record, just four league games remain for the Pride as they look to secure a playoff spot.

Meanwhile, Team Solent Kestrels are coming off a tough double-header from last weekend, as their home back-to-back saw them face off with the other two sides in the top three positions in the table. Coach CJ Lee's side were able to pick up the spoils in the first encounter when they downed Anglia Ruskin by three points, before they fell to Bristol by single digits on the Sunday. The Kestrels' now head on the road to the capital, hoping to sure up a top four finish and keep up the pressure on Bristol atop the league standings. 


 Loughborough Riders v Team Birmingham Elite 

Saturday 23 February 2019 - 4.30pm

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After a dominant win over Sevenoaks Suns II a fortnight ago, the Loughborough Riders fell foul of an in-form Ipswich squad last weekend, as the Suffolk-based side continued their strong run by taking the points on their home floor. The National Cup champion Riders will look to bounce back on their home floor as they host an all-Midlands battle when Team Birmingham Elite roll into town. With a 7-5 record, the Riders now six games remaining to climb the table in hopes of a top four finish. 

Team Birmingham Elite had a weekend off last week, giving Coach Robin Hall and his squad time to reflect on a successful couple of weeks where the West Midlands' side quickly tripled their season win tally with victories over Ipswich and Barking Abbey. Now just one win away from putting themselves right back in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot, five games remain for Coach Hall and his squad to get the job done and secure WNBL Division One status for next season - with post-season action still within reach and up for grabs. 


NBL Division Two

 London United v Ipswich 

Saturday 23 February 2019 - 2.00pm

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This fixture that tips off Saturday's NBL Division Two action sees a reversal of last weekend's matchup which saw London United pick up an exciting overtime win on the road in Suffolk. Ipswich took the lead early on, as the recent Patrons Cup runners-up scored well in the first period - before a strong second and third quarters gave United the advantage. Ben Winter and Stephen Hemmings hit crucial buckets down the stretch to force the overtime, but United had the best of the extra period as they built an advantage at the foul line. 

Flipping the matchup sees Ipswich make the trip over to Alec Reed Academy, with United hoping to maintain their fourth-placed position as we head into the business end of the season. Meanwhile, the Suffolk-based side still have work to do if they are to make a post-season appearance this year - currently on the outside looking in, with a 4-10 record that sees them hold ninth place. Just six games remain for Ipswich to make their run to ensure that will still be playing once March comes to an end. 


 Greenwich Titans v Sussex Bears 

Saturday 23 February 2019 - 3.00pm

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It has been somewhat of a season of two halves for the Greenwich Titans, after a tough welcome to life in NBL Division Two - the East London side now find themselves just one win outside of the playoff race. The Titans picked up a crucial win over fellow bottom two squad London Westside last weekend, before falling to Myerscough College behind a last second shot from Callan Low. Holding the 10th position with a 4-9 record, the season is nowhere near over for a Greenwich side that is finding form at the right time, with a couple of results down the stretch putting the Titans in amongst it for a post-season berth.

However, their matchup in this one is a tough Sussex Bears side that currently hold the third spot in the table with an 8-6 record. Recent form has the Bears with a 2-2 record in their last four outings, a tough spell that included facing all four of the other teams that make up the top five in the standings, so Coach Gary Smith's squad will be pleased to face off against opposition from the lower tiers of the league - with their next four fixtures including three games against teams in the league's bottom four.  


 Derbyshire Arrows v London Greenhouse Pioneers 

Saturday 23 February 2019 - 4.15pm

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The penultimate game of the NBL Division Two weekend sees London Greenhouse Pioneers make the trip to Dronfield to face off with the Derbyshire Arrows. In a weekend of extremely close games just a week ago, the Arrows were the unfortunate team that were the exception - with a lopsided loss coming at the hands of undefeated league-leaders Liverpool. Holding the eighth and final playoff spot as things stand with a 5-9 record, the Arrows have just six games remaining to add to their win tally and maintain their plight for post-season play. 

Meanwhile, a season of two halves has seen the Pioneers slide down the table in 2019 as they have been unable to rediscover the form that took them on an impressive unbeaten run before the festive break. Despite a five-game losing streak to begin 2019, the capital-based squad retain the sixth position with an even 7-7 record, but a loss this weekend could see the Pioneers drop below .500 for the first time since November. 


 Westminster Warriors v East London All Stars 

Saturday 23 February 2019 - 5.30pm

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The final game of the NBL Division Two weekend is another cross-capital encounter as the East London All Stars travel to face Westminster Warriors. As recent champions of the Patrons Cup and holding second-place by a four point margin, the Westminster squad will be full of confidence that they can solidify their position as one of the top teams in Division Two down the stretch. With the league title remaining out of reach if Liverpool stay perfect and complete a historic season, the Warriors are effectively playing for second place, and will need every result if they are to maintain the breathing room between themselves and the chasing pack.

The visitors in this one, who make the journey to Moberley Sports & Education Centre, are an East London squad that holds the seventh spot with a 7-8 record; looking to improve to .500 if they can pinch a win in this one. Recent form has the All Stars with a 3-3 record since the Christmas break, with all three losses coming in single digits against top teams. On paper, Westminster remain the favourites in this matchup, but Coach Jon Johnson should be war of an East London side that has pushed the other top teams all the way in recent weeks. 


For full Scores & Schedules for this weekend's action, click the link below: