The NBL returned last week and any cobwebs will have been shaken off as we head into the second game week of 2020. Nine games make up week 15 as we take a look at all the action, including the one remaining Men's National Cup quarter final between Myerscough and Westminster.
Two South coast rivals lock horns on Saturday in front of the NBL cameras in what is sure to be a highly anticipated contest.
Both these teams progressed to the quarter finals of the BBL Trophy last week, with Solent defeating London Lions and Worthing knocking off Manchester Giants. Worthing and Solent will now meet each other for a semi final spot, highlighting the level of quality likely to be on offer this weekend.
The Kestrels were victorious when these sides last met in early October, with Elliott Sentance's 27 points pushing the visitors to an 88-70 win.
If Worthing can find a way to come out on top at the 2nd time of asking, they'll no doubt need a big contribution from Alex Owumi, who had 22 points in the Thunder's Trophy win in the North West. Young star Cam Hildreth (18.7ppg, 6.0rpg) and the ever-present Zaire Taylor (18.4ppg, 7.1rpg) will also need to find a way to get involved.
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2nd place Hemel Storm (11-3) were rocked by recent news that talented centre and former D1M Player of the Week Lee Hodges has elected to leave the club for D2 Southern Conference leaders Essex Rebels. The setback didn't slow them in their opening game of 2020 however, with the Storm now setting their sights on a road win against Nottingham Hoods (5-9) on Sunday.
That game forms the 2nd leg of a double header for the Hoods, they're also scheduled to take on 3rd place Reading Rockets (10-4) on Saturday in what is sure to be a tough encounter in the Midlands.
The Rockets are also playing a double header this weekend, they head home for a huge top of the table clash against 4th place Thames Valley Cavaliers (9-4) on Sunday, with a vital two points on offer in the race for playoff seedings.
Barking Abbey (2-9) are another team putting in the overtime this weekend, travelling to London rivals Westminster Warriors (3-11) on Saturday before entertaining Worthing on Sunday. Things are getting tight at the bottom of D1M with points at a premium, Saturday's game in particular a crucial one between 11th and 12th in the standings.
Essex & Herts Leopards (1-13) will be hoping home advantage gives them a boost against a strong Loughborough Riders (8-5) team. Coach Jarram's side beat the Leopards 94-66 in their opening game of the season, and Essex's plight won't have been helped by the recent departure of top scorer Hafeez Abdul to Adrano in Italy.
Fellow strugglers Liverpool (2-12) face a difficult trip to Derby (8-5) as they try to claw their way from the foot of the table. Trailblazers' Malcolm Smith currently averages 19.5ppg and will no doubt be looking for further production tomorrow night.
Finally, Bradford Dragons (5-7) can move level on 12 points with tomorrow's opponents Leicester Warriors (6-8) if Coach Mellor's side put together a solid performance at Bradford College. Leicester won the first meeting between these sides 72-66, so both teams will also have one eye on the head-to-head tiebreak as well.
The one remaining National Cup quarter final takes place this Sunday as Myerscough and Westminster battle it out to join Reading, Solent and Loughborough in the draw for the semi finals.
Myerscough are the only side remaining in the competition from outside the top flight, with the North West programme currently sit 2nd in D2M's Northern Conference with an 8-2 record. They'll be hoping to spring a shock on Westminster, who are currently struggling in D1 with a record of 3-11.
Coach Hopkins' side have already knocked a D1M side out of the National Cup this season, with a 101-67 win over Liverpool in the last round. Perhaps lightning can strike twice tomorrow.
5:30pm - Westminster Warriors v Barking Abbey STATS
5:45pm - Essex &Herts Leopards v Loughborough Riders STATS
6:00pm - Team Solent Kestrels v Worthing Thunder STATS
6:15pm - Bradford Dragons v Leicester Warriors STATS
7:00pm - Nottingham McDonald’s Hoods v Reading Rockets STATS
7:15pm - Derby Trailblazers v Liverpool STATS
2:00pm - Barking Abbey v Worthing Thunder STATS
5:00pm - Reading Rockets v Thames Valley Cavaliers STATS
5:00pm - Nottingham McDonald’s Hoods v Hemel Storm STATS
National Cup - 1:30pm - Myerscough College v Westminster Warriors
Main image credit - Luke Simcock