Four NBL1 clubs are in the mix for this year's Trophy, the competition that Team Solent Kestrels came within a whisker of winning last season.
Saturday's NBL action is highlighted by a local derby between Nottingham and Leicester that forms one half of an NBL Live double-header, with Bradford Dragons and Reading Rockets putting on a show for our cameras as well.
There's also a tricky road test for unbeaten Thames Valley as they head to Newcastle in what should be a much-anticipated encounter between third and fourth in the standings.
We take a look at all this weekend's games below, with links to live stats and live streams at the bottom of the page.
There are two exciting games lined up for Saturday as Wildcats Arena opens its doors to our NBL Live crew.
At 1pm, Bradford Dragons (4-2) entertain Reading Rockets (2-3) as commentators Michael Hanson-Morris and Matt Johnson oversee all the action.
Wildcats Arena proved to be a happy hunting ground for the Rockets last weekend as they beat Nottingham Hoods 98-79 thanks to 23 points from O'Showen Williams. Bradford will be looking for a change of fortunes however, they dropped their last game to Essex 101-86.
In the second game of the day, Nottingham Hoods (2-5) host local rivals Leicester Warriors (0-9) in what is sure to be an entertaining contest.
The Warriors are winless this season but ran Newcastle close last weekend thanks to a strong performance on debut from former BBL man Mo Williams. His 36 points were a shot in the arm for the division's secnd lowest scoring offence.
Tomorrow's opponents own the lowest scoring offence at 75.4ppg however, though Victor Olarerin is still enjoying a breakout season. His 23.9ppg is good for fifth best in the division despite his team's struggles.
The voice of NBL Live John Hobbs will be joined by David Watts for that one, and both games can be viewed below.
Thames Valley Cavaliers (6-0) put their unbeaten start to the season on the line tomorrow as they visit Team Newcastle University (6-2)
The play of Ronald Blain, David Moya and Brandon Federici has made coach Elderkin's side a tough one to crack, though the visiting Cavs are a strong side this year.
Hakeem Sylla is a multiple Player of the Week winner for TVC and he's a candidate for a double-double every time he plays.
Team mate Taylor Johnson made the Rebound Team of the Week for his 25 point outing against Worthing last weekend, making the duo a formidable pair in a deep Cavs' roster.
Essex Rebels (2-3) pulled off one of the shocks of the season last weekend as they won at Hemel, the former D2 side will now be looking to do the same again tomorrow against high-flying Derby Trailblazers (7-1)
Coach Shaw's side currently top the D1M standings and haven't lost since the first week in November, but the Rebels have momentum on their side and two form players in the shape of Team of the Week selections Sam Newman and Ethan Price.
Saturday closes with a pair of 7pm tips as Hemel Storm (4-2) host BA London Lions (2-2) and Loughborough Riders (2-6) travel to Worthing Thunder (2-6).
Hemel beat the Lions 90-74 in their only league meeting last year and defeat here would stretch Barking's winless streak to three. Look for Veron Eze and Jase Harrison to try and get BA turned around against D1M scoring and efficiency leader Greg Poleon (27.3ppg)
At 2-6, neither Worthing nor Loughborough will be happy with the way they've started the season. As news dropped that Thunder star Cam Hildreth has joined BBL side Surrey, it remains to be seen how Worthing will be able to cover that loss.
It will also leave the South Coast side shorthanded at guard for the foreseeable future, a dicey prospect this weekend against Loughborough's triple-double machine Kyle Jimenez.
Welcome to Scorchers, Cam Hildreth!— Surrey Scorchers (@surreyscorchers) February 4, 2021
The 18-year-old Wake Forest Commit will play for Creon Raftopoulos in the BBL for the remainder of the 2020-2021 BBL Championship campaign!
Read more: https://t.co/OgTSEUeGbo#OneGoal 🔥 pic.twitter.com/aPbfy0MfXu
The first round of the BBL Trophy tips off tonight for NBL participants as Solent, Hemel, Thames Valley and Derby are all in the draw for this year's competition.
Thames Valley get things underway with a Friday night spectacle against Surrey Scorchers, who field another familiar face in their ranks.
Martelle McLemore joined the Cavs from Surrey and played in Thames Valley for four seasons, with the talented forward now back at the Scorchers for 2020/21.
McLemore's battle with former team mate Hakeem Sylla will surely be one to watch as Thames Valley will fancy their chances against a Scorchers team that sits near the foot of the BBL table and has won just twice in the league this year.
Cam Hildreth is set to go straight into the action following his move from Worthing.
🚨 ICYMI: Following last night's live draw on BBL’s Facebook page hosted by @dan_routledge, the BBL Trophy First Round ties have been assigned!— British Basketball League (@BBLofficial) January 8, 2021
🎦Re-watch: https://t.co/HlX5Svy2Pm#BritishBasketball pic.twitter.com/qb4M7JMtVF
Hemel Storm will also be setting their sights on a place in the next round against Cheshire Phoenix, the North West outfit have gone 2-3 over their last five games.
That said, both Jimbo Lull (17.5ppg, 8.6rpg) and Jalen Hayes (17.1ppg, 8.6rpg) are enjoying fine seasons and feature heavily on the BBL's stat leader boards.
Lull may miss the contest with a sprained ankle, though the Nix could call on GB international Matthew Bryan-Amaning after his signing last week.
Coach Spinks will need a plan in place to slow down the Cheshire offence regardless of who suits up, and Storm fans will no doubt watch with intrigue at how the likes of Poleon and Mike Williams stack up against this level of competition.
Finally, the NBL is guaranteed at least one team in the next round of the Trophy as Derby and Solent face off at 5pm on Sunday. Solent marched all the way to the final last season and will no doubt be hoping for a similar run here, whilst Derby haven't played in this competition since 2016.
The teams are yet to meet in D1M this year, though the Kestrels did take the win 87-66 when the two sides met last season.
1pm - Bradford Dragons v Reading Rockets - LIVE STATS/LIVE STREAM
3pm - Essex Rebels v Derby Trailblazers - LIVE STATS/LIVE STREAM
4pm - Team Newcastle University v Thames Valley Cavaliers - LIVE STATS/LIVE STREAM
6pm - Nottingham Hoods v Leicester Warriors - LIVE STATS/LIVE STREAM
7pm - Hemel Storm v BA London Lions - LIVE STATS/LIVE STREAM
7pm - Worthing Thunder v Loughborough Riders - LIVE STATS/LIVESTREAM LOCATION
Main image credit - Luke Simcock
01 Mar 2021
01 Mar 2021