PREVIEW - Top of the table matchup in WNBL Division One as regular season climax approaches!

NBL Division One

 Leicester Warriors v Barking Abbey Crusaders 

Saturday 16 March 2019 - 3.00pm

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It's an eight-game slate this weekend in NBL Division One, with just two fixture weekends remaining following this weekend's action. Saturday's schedule tips off at Braunstone Leisure Centre as Leicester Warriors play host to Barking Abbey Crusaders, a matchup between two sides who both sit in the bottom half of the table - but come into this one with differing motivations. On the Warriors' side, the East Midlands' squad currently hold the eighth and final playoff spot as they have made an impressive mid-season turnaround to find some form and climb the table. However, Leicester find themselves on a two-game losing streak heading into this one, so will need rediscover the play that got them into the playoff race. 

Meanwhile, the Crusaders head into this one amid a relegation battle that may go down to the wire in the stretch run of this campaign. With all three remaining games for Coach Lloyd Gardner's side all coming against teams in the bottom half of the standings, it is a few crucial weeks for the East London squad who are just two points clear of the bottom two. While this road matchup against Leicester presents the toughest of their three remaining games, the Crusaders will still head into this one full of confidence of a potential result after just a four point loss at home in the reverse fixture back in early December. 


 Team Newcastle v Team Solent Kestrels 

Saturday 16 March 2019 - 3.00pm

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Tipping off at the same time as the contest in Leicester, Team Newcastle welcome the league-leading Team Solent Kestrels to the Benfield Centre in a tough matchup for the home side who find themselves battling potential relegation. Newcastle picked up an important result in their plight for survival last weekend when they downed Essex for an upset victory, but the North East side still trail Barking in the standings, in what has quickly become a two horse race. With two games remaining against playoff-bound teams, including this one against Team Solent, Coach Ian Hewitt's side will have to target crucial contests with Barking and Nottingham as their main opportunities for the points they need to maintain NBL Division One status. 

The maths remains simple for Team Solent, a perfect end to this season secures the league title that eluded the south coast side down the stretch last campaign. In their three seasons in the top flight since promotion from NBL Division Two in 2015/16, the Kestrels have enjoyed fifth-placed and second-placed finishes, so a regular season title this season would be a big reward for the programme that has been built down in Southampton. Standing between Coach Matt Guymon's side and the silverware they crave are matchups with Newcastle, Bradford and Essex, so - on paper at least - it looks like the NBL Division One championship will be finding a home at Places Leisure Eastleigh this season; but titles aren't won on paper. 


 Thames Valley Cavaliers v Derby Trailblazers 

Saturday 16 March 2019 - 6.00pm

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The evening games in NBL Division One begin with a well-needed return home for Thames Valley Cavaliers, after the West London squad came up empty on a road double-header last weekend. Picking up narrow single digit losses away at Bradford and Reading have hurt the Cavs as they jostle for their playoff seed, as Coach Robert Banks' side now hold the sixth spot and face a potential first round matchup with Loughborough. A busy stretch run will see Thames Valley play five games over the next three weeks, including a rare mid-week trip up to Manchester for a rearranged game, and the Cavaliers may yet have a part to play in the title race as they host Worthing Thunder for the Sussex-based side's final game of the regular season. 

Making the visit to Uxbridge College for this one is a Derby squad that picked up a surprising loss on the road last weekend when they travelled to Manchester Magic, dropping a close game without star forward Malcolm Smith. The loss hurts the Blazers resume as they hunt a top four finish, with both Reading and Thames Valley close behind. This matchup with the Cavaliers could go some way in sealing the top four if Thames Valley are able to double down on their victory in the reverse fixture and clinch the head-to-head advantage. Coach Matt Shaw and the Blazers will hope for return for Smith, but continued form from Isa Brandon will also help their cause in the stretch run of this campaign. 


 Hemel Storm v Loughborough Riders 

Saturday 16 March 2019 - 7.00pm

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Having extended their win streak to three games last week with a road victory over Nottingham, Hemel Storm now find themselves just one win back from a playoff spot - chasing down Leicester week by week. The Herfordshire-based side face a tough one this weekend, as a talented Loughborough team roll into town hunting for a result to strengthen their resume for a top three finish. Each of the three recent victories for the Storm have been paced by the trio of TrayVonn Wright, Bode Adeluola and Blayne Freckleton, as the Hemel stars have found their rhythm together since Wright's arrival in February. 

Loughborough head into this weekend's double-header action as the only NBL Division One side who enjoyed a weekend off last week, so Coach Mark Jarram's squad should be suitably refreshed and ready for their road trip down the M1. Two weeks ago when the Riders were last in action, the East Midlands' side split a tough road double-header which saw them come up against Derby and Team Solent, as they picked up their 14th win of the season against the Blazers to propel themselves into the third position. With Reis Pinnock finding his form again since his return from injury, the young Riders could really be a team to keep an eye on as the regular season comes to a close and the post-season tips off. 


 Worthing Thunder v Manchester Magic 

Saturday 16 March 2019 - 7.30pm

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The late game on Saturday night sees Manchester Magic make the long trip down to the south coast to face the title-chasing second-placed Worthing Thunder. On a five-game win streak since a slip-up against Hemel, the Thunder have found their form at a crucial time in the campaign, as they look to keep up the pressure on Team Solent at the summit of the standings. Four games remain for player-coach Josh Goddard's squad, as the Thunder need to maintain a perfect finish to the season if they are to take advantage of any mistakes by their south coast rivals. Worthing shouldn't look too far ahead however, as Manchester head into this one buoyed by their victory over Derby and hoping to recreate the competitive contest between the two sides from back in early December at the Manchester Basketball Centre.

A victory last Saturday night over Derby kept the NBL Division One survival dream alive for the Magic last weekend, but a late win for Barking over Reading mathematically ended the North West side's hopes of a great escape. Manchester completed their home double-header with a loss against Bradford as they fell to 2-20 with four games remaining to bring an end to a torrid season. The stretch run doesn't get any easier for the Division Two bound Magic, with all four of their remaining schedule coming against top six opposition. However, if Coach Simon Fisher's squad are able to recreate their impressive victory over the Blazers, they could yet be a late factor in the title race and the race for the top seeds in the post-season. 


 Loughborough Riders v Worthing Thunder 

Sunday 17 March 2019 - 4.15pm

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Sunday's action in NBL Division One gets underway with two top three sides completing their double-header weekend in a third vs second matchup. The Riders return home after a late road trip to Hemel, while Worthing make the journey up to the East Midlands after a home tie against Manchester. As the two teams to have picked up silverware thus far this season, Worthing will hope to recreate their success over Loughborough in the recent National Trophy final, while a win for the National Cup champion Riders may bring an end the Thunder's title chances for this season. 


 Bradford Dragons v Essex Leopards 

Sunday 17 March 2019 - 4.15pm

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Bradford Dragons will be back at the Dragons' Den at Bradford College on Sunday afternoon after their successful switch to Unique Fitness last weekend which saw them grab a narrow win over Thames Valley. Coach Chris Mellor's side followed up that impressive result by going on the road down the M62 to Manchester and picking up another victory as they downed a Magic side high off their win over Derby. Rihards Sulcs kept up his eye-catching play for the Dragons with 43 points over the two weekend contests, as the Dragons secured their eighth and ninth wins of the season to keep a run at the playoffs alive. Holding the head-to-head over Leicester by a single point, a victory in this one combined with a Leicester loss against Barking would be enough to see Bradford rise to the eighth spot.

Meanwhile, making the journey to enter the Dragons Den is an Essex Leopards that picked up a surprising loss on the road at Team Newcastle last weekend, as the league's seventh-placed side dropped one against the relegation battlers following a rough start to the game. With their spot in the playoffs close to confirmed, the Leopards will have their eyes on rising up the rankings to avoid a first round matchup against one of the title contenders; while home advantage in the first round still exists as a mathematical possibility. To achieve this, Coach Thomas Baker will need continued production from impressive import Asante Sandiford, as the US forward has poured in 71 points across the Big Cats previous three encounters.


 Hemel Storm v Reading Rockets 

Sunday 17 March 2019 - 5.00pm

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Hemel Storm complete their home-and-home double-header to wrap up this weekend's NBL Division One action, as Coach Robert Youngblood's side play host to the fifth-placed Reading Rockets in an important matchup for playoff seeding. A back-to-back of home wins against playoff-bound sides could see the Storm rise into the eighth and final playoff spot, while simultaneously harming the resumes of Loughborough and Reading who both find themselves jostling for their final finishing position this season.

Reading head into this one having enjoyed a Saturday of rest following their busy double-header last weekend - a back-to-back which saw them drop a tough one on the road against a high-scoring Crusaders' performance, before picking up a clutch home win against Thames Valley in front of a packed house at John Madejski Academy. A short trip over to Hertfordshire for the Rockets will see them looking to recreate an impressive 97-80 victory from back in November at the 'Mead against the Storm. A top four finish still remains a distinct possibility for Coach Alan Keane's squad, but they will need to maximise their results over the stretch run with Derby and Thames Valley also fighting for a home tie in the playoffs. 


WNBL Division One

 Bristol Academy Flyers v Team Solent Kestrels 

Saturday 16 March 2019 - 12.30pm

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WNBL Division One gets going early on Saturday afternoon as the Bristol Academy Flyers welcome Team Solent Kestrels in a top of the table matinee contest. With Anglia Ruskin having picked up a road loss against Loughborough last weekend, the Flyers now find themselves in the driver's seat of the title race - their record of 13-3 being one loss fewer than the Rhinos and Kestrels. With just two games remaining, a perfect finish would clinch the league championship for Coach Gareth Till's squad, but tough top four matchups lie ahead in the form of Team Solent and Loughborough. 

Making the trip from the south coast up to Bristol is a Team Solent side riding a two game win streak since their narrow single digit loss in the reverse of this fixture back in mid-February. MVP favourites Geena Gomez and Cristina Bigica shone for their respective sides on that day, so look for the stars of these table-topping sides to play important roles once again this weekend. Having lost the prior matchup 66-72, a seven point win in this one for the Kestrels would not only put them top of the standings, it would clinch the all-important head-to-head advantage that could pay big dividends down the stretch.


 Ipswich v Southwark Pride 

Saturday 16 March 2019 - 3.00pm

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It has been a tricky couple of weeks for Ipswich since their impressive victory over Loughborough, as the Suffolk-based side have fallen to three straight losses in their three contests since against Reading and Anglia Ruskin. As a side with their post-season berth confirmed, Coach Nick Drane's squad play their final league matchup of thee season with the possibility of leapfrogging Southwark to take the fifth seed. A nine point win would clinch the head-to-head advantage for Ipswich, and see them improve to fifth and likely match up with Loughborough in the first round of the playoffs. 

Also the final game of the league season for the visitors, Southwark Pride head to Copleston Sports Centre in the hope of securing the fifth seed by building on their dominant win last weekend over Sevenoaks. It has been a mixed stretch run for the Pride, who have struggled to string good performances together - unable to pick up multiple wins in a row since the festive break. Having had difficult seasons where they have developed young stars alongside veteran leaders, both Southwark and Ipswich will be hunting a .500 record to end the campaign - but one team will have to settle for an 8-10 finish in the sixth seed. 


 Team Birmingham Elite v Anglia Ruskin University 

Saturday 16 March 2019 - 4.00pm

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A solid run of late has seen Team Birmingham Elite move from the basement spot in the WNBL Division One table to becoming a significant contender for the eighth and final playoff spot. With two games remaining, and not holding the head-to-head decider over either Sevenoaks or Barking - grabbing a victory against Anglia Ruskin in one of their final two league matchups this weekend is crucial if the West Midlands' side are to play a part in the post-season. With this first of their two games against the Rhinos being played out of the University of Birmingham School, rather than The Factory, this one may feel like a road game for both sides. 

Meanwhile, a crucial loss on the road against Loughborough last weekend significantly harmed the Rhinos' title chances, as Coach Michael Hanson-Morris' side no longer control their own destiny in the race for the regular season championship. With their two remaining games coming against bottom three Team Birmingham Elite this weekend, Anglia Ruskin can be relatively confident that two victories to end the season is within their reach - but will rely on a Bristol slip-up against Team Solent or Loughborough to keep things interesting at the top.


 Loughborough Riders v Reading Rockets 

Saturday 16 March 2019 - 4.30pm

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Saturday's action in WNBL Division One concludes when Loughborough welcome Reading, in a rematch of January's National Cup final. Winners on that occasion at the Essex Sport Arena, Coach Krumesh Patel will hope his side can repeat their strong performance as they look to utilise their final three league games to become a factor in the title race. On a three game win streak since their road loss to Ipswich, the Riders have forced their way into the conversation at the top, and may yet have a significant part to play in deciding the destination of the regular season silverware if they can take down Bristol on the road next weekend. 

The visitors in this also head into the game holding a three game win streak, after picking up good results against Birmingham and Ipswich in recent weeks. Four games remain for Coach David Sanchez' Rockets side, with the first two coming against their opposition in this one. A tough home-and-away series against the Riders over the next two weekends will be followed by hosting Team Solent on the final day of the season, with a rearranged game against Sevenoaks still to fit in along the way. A perfect finish to this campaign could see the Rockets be in with a chance at the fourth spot - two wins from two against current fourth-placed Loughborough would be vital. 


 Anglia Ruskin University v Team Birmingham Elite 

Sunday 17 March 2019 - 3.30pm

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The final game of the WNBL Division Two weekend sees Anglia Ruskin complete this weekend's home-and-away series with Team Birmingham Elite, as the Rhinos look to finish their season on a high and stake their claim for the top spot. Meanwhile, with a spot in the playoffs up for grabs for Birmingham, they will be sure to travel to Cambridge full of intent to grab an upset win that could see them seal an eighth-placed finish.


NBL Division Two

 Myerscough College v Derbyshire Arrows 

Saturday 16 March 2019 - 2.00pm

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Myerscough College get things started in NBL Division Two on Saturday afternoon when they play host to the Derbyshire Arrows, looking to avenge the 88-71 loss they took in the reverse fixture back in December. The North West side is on a short two game losing streak as things stand, having picked up tough results against league champions Liverpool, followed by a home loss against London Westside last weekend. A different leading scorer in each of their last three outings, Myerscough have shown of late that the depth of young talent on their roster means that multiple players can shine on any given day - with Mate Okros, Sanmi Fajana and Bradley Kaboza recently leading the way. 

Meanwhile, Debryshire Arrows enter this contest hopeful of a victory that would see them rise into the eighth spot and contend for that final playoff position as the regular season draws to a close. Currently tied with Ipswich and Greenwich with five wins on the season, crucial points from this matchup would see the Arrows take big steps towards ensuring that their season doesn't end in March. Joseph Baugh was the pick of the pack against Myerscough back in December, leading all scorers with 22 points, so Coach Jonny Kelly will be hoping for a repeat from his star forward. 


 Sussex Bears v London Westside 

Saturday 16 March 2019 - 5.00pm

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Having temporarily dropped out of the top four, Sussex Bears the first of their four games remaining full of confidence that they will be able to get the results they need to clinch home court in the playoffs. Tied on nine wins with London Greenhouse Pioneers, the south coast side have a game in hand and a relatively easy schedule the rest of the way. Three of their four final matchups come against bottom four sides, with just the sixth-placed East London All Stars as the tough blip on that radar. When these two sides last faced off in December, it was the Bears who took a dominant 73-101 victory behind 39 points from leading scorer Cordaris Townes. 

Having made a number of mid-season additions London Westside have gone from certain relegation contender to right back in the playoff race, now sitting just one win behind the eighth spot. Three games remain for the new-look Westside to grab the results they need to earn a post-season berth, and Coach Frank Lamptey will hope that Santiago Leon can continue his hot scoring streak to spur to London squad to the wins they need down the stretch.


 Liverpool v Greenwich Titans 

Saturday 16 March 2019 - 5.00pm

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The NBL Division Two champions-elect mathematically clinched the league title last weekend, as Liverpool picked up an impressive road victory over Westminster; the Warriors first home loss this campaign. Their dominance this campaign in represented by a perfect 17-0 league record, a streak that Coach Delme Herriman and his side will hope to continue in front of their home fans back at Archbishop Beck Sports College for the first of three home games to close out the season. With it looking like very little stands between the Merseysiders and a perfect 20-0 campaign, these final three home games could become somewhat of a victory lap in front of the loyal Liverpool following. 

One of the teams who will be locking on to the target that will be on Liverpool's back down the stretch is Greenwich Titans, the first of the three final visitors to Archbishop Beck throughout the climax of the league campaign. The Titans picked up an impressive 106-76 win over Ipswich last weekend, as Jake Murphy starred with 28 points. The East Londoners have a tough task on their hands to recreate that performance on the road at Liverpool, but Coach Ashley Thomas and his squad head into the matchup knowing that a surprise win would go some way to cementing their chances at sealing the eighth spot. 


 Liverpool v Ipswich 

Sunday 17 March 2019 - 3.00pm

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The all-conquering Liverpool squad are quickly back in action on Sunday afternoon when they play host to Ipswich in their penultimate league game. If all has gone to plan against the Titans, this game will see the North West squad hoping to improve to 19-0, and be just one result away from an historically dominant campaign. The road team with something to say about that eventuality is an Ipswich squad fighting for the eighth and final playoff spot. Tied on five wins with Greenwich, the Suffolk-based side have three games remaining to pick up the points they need to feature in the post-season - after a disappointing league campaign that has not matched their commanding run to the Patrons Cup final.


 London United v Westminster Warriors 

Sunday 17 March 2019 - 4.00pm

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Having all but secured a top four finish with their 11-7 record as things stand, London United's debut campaign in NBL Division Two since their merger with Middlesex LTBC has been an overall success. The West London squad have two final league games to finish off a solid season, with two very different matchups to come. First up on Sunday is a visit from second-placed Westminster, likely to be a tough contest as the Warriors enter the game looking to rebound from back-to-back losses against Liverpool and Ipswich. United will then close out the season next weekend by visiting Greenwich, a matchup that - on paper at least - they should be able to come out on top in.

Having picked up just their fifth league loss of the season - and the first on their home floor - Westminster enter this cross-capital matchup with a point to prove, after the title race ended when Liverpool pinched the points at Moberley Sports Centre. Having dropped back-to-back games for the first time this season, player-coach Jon Johnson and his squad will be refocused and ready for the stretch run of the season; to rebound from their tough results by maximising the points from their final four matchups. The first of these four could be crucial in splitting the second and third positions in the table, but Westminster will be confident - leading the head-to-head after a 107-85 win back in December.  


 East London All Stars v London Greenhouse Pioneers 

Sunday 17 March 2019 - 5.00pm

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The NBL Division Two weekend wraps up, as it often does, at UEL Sportsdock - as East London All Stars host London Greenhouse Pioneers in a matchup that could be key in the race for a top four finish. The All Stars enter this contest with an 8-9 record, just one win behind the Pioneers and Bears, with three games remaining to grab the crucial results needed to clinch home court in the first round. With a game in hand, Sussex are best poised to clinch that fourth spot, but the outcome of this one will go some way to deciding who will be the closest competitors to come out of the capital.

Winners of two of their last three, the Pioneers look to have put their tough run of form after the festive break behind them, as three games remain for Coach Predrag Krneta's squad to pick up the points they need to finish fourth. Holding the crucial head-to-head as things stand, with an 89-60 win against East London back in December, Greenhouse will be confident of repeating their earlier success despite the young developing talent on Coach Dave Greenaway's roster. 


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