NBL1 & National Cup preview: 6/7 January - live streams, stats and more

The NBL roars back into life tomorrow with a packed weekend of action.

Four leagues games bring in the New Year on Saturday, including a potential relegation scrap between Thames Valley and Barking Abbey, before a pair of much-anticipated NBL National Cup semi-finals on Sunday.

Derby Trailblazers will take on D2 Milton Keynes Breakers, with Reading Rockets hosting D1 leaders Essex Rebels as all four sides battle for a spot in this month's Final. The NBL Live cameras will also be in Berkshire to capture all the action between the Rockets and the Rebels.

We take a look at all of the weekend's action below, with links to live stats and live streams at the bottom of the page.

Thames Valley Cavaliers (2-9) vs Barking Abbey (0-10)

D1M's bottom pair go head-to-head to start 2024 as winless Barking Abbey head to Thames Valley.

BA, then under the moniker of London Lions II, flirted with potential relegation a year ago before closing with a 6-20 record, four points above the eventual trapdoor to D2.

For Thames Valley, their decline has been more pronounced. After back-to-back second-place finishes, TVC were 13-13 a year ago and enjoyed a playoff spot as sixth-place finishers. To see them now in the bottom two is a sharp comparison, but it does highlight the ever-competitive nature of life at the top of the NBL.

To examine the potential root of their issues, you don't have to look much further than the defensive record of either side heading into tomorrow's clash. Both Barking (91.3) and Thames Valley (92.9) are two of only four teams in D1M to allow more than 90 points per game this season.

BA's output of 72.2PPG at the other end displays a disparity between defence and attack that the Londoners would like to change in 2024, with a drop down to the second tier a real possibility if they can't.

 The Cavs have generally found points easier to come by, mainly due to the outstanding play in the first half of the year from veteran Bode Adeluola. The former Hemel man currently averages a league-fifth-best 22.0PPG, whilst Igor Stokic leads the league on the glass with 13.6RPG.

Thames Valley could move out of the bottom two with a win and results elsewhere going in their favour, whilst BA could reel in the teams above them with a first W of the season. It's a true relegation four pointer tomorrow in Uxbridge, and a great way to kick off 2024.


Elsewhere this weekend

Newcastle University (6-2) start the New Year knowing that if they can win their games in hand they can be right in the title mix with one loss Essex and two loss Derby. They'll start that push at home tomorrow, facing Nottingham Hoods (6-5), who also have 12 points as things stand.

London Elite (2-8) head into their home clash with Loughborough Riders (6-4) knowing that one of Thames Valley or Barking will be picking up a win this weekend. That makes their quest to grab a third victory of the season all the more pressing, though it'll be a tough ask against a Riders side striving for the top four.

The day closes with Worthing Thunder (3-6) hosting City of Birmingham Rockets (4-5), a meeting between two teams stuck in mid table limbo. Both are a few wins away from a playoff spot, but also only a few poor results away from getting pulling into the relegation mix below.

National Cup

This weekend will see two exciting NBL semi-final games take place as four battle to become two for a shot at silverware.

Derby Trailblazers host D2's Milton Keynes Breakers in the first semi-final, with the Breakers looking to add yet another D1M team to their list of upsets this season.

Derby made the final of last season's competition only to be swept aside 102-81 by Hemel's dominance on the way to a quadruple winning campaign. The Trailblazers will be hoping to go one better this year, but need to navigate this weekend's opponent first and could easily be caught out if they take them lightly.

Trailblazers forward Jonas Dieterich says it’s important Derby give MK the upmost respect.

“We’re expecting them to be really tough. We can’t get drawn into thinking they’re a division two side, because they’re definitely not. They’ve recruited well and they’ve got a really strong side, so we need to make sure we’re really focused in practice as we get ready for it, because we know it’s not going to be easy,” he said.

Reading Rockets entertain Essex Rebels in the other semi-final, with the D1M top dogs hoping to find success on the road against the Rockets.

That game will be streamed live on the Basketball England YouTube channel, with Niall Gray bringing you all the action from 4pm onwards.

This weekend's fixtures:

Saturday 6 January - D1M

2pm - Newcastle University vs Nottingham Hoods - LIVE STATS

6:30pm - London Elite vs Loughborough Riders - LIVE STATS

7pm - Thames Valley Cavaliers vs Barking Abbey - LIVE STATS

7:30pm - Worthing Thunder vs City of Birmingham Rockets - LIVE STATS

Sunday 7 January - NBL National Cup

4pm - Reading Rockets vs Essex Rebels - LIVE STATS/LIVE STREAM

5:30pm - Derby Trailblazers vs Milton Keynes Breakers - LIVE STATS