The Men's & Women's National Cups come to their climax at the Essex Sport Arena on Sunday; the first opportunity for our NBL sides to pick up silverware this season!
Loughborough Riders will be hoping to do the double, as both their Men's and Women's take to the floor in Colchester. Facing off against the Riders in the Men's National Cup are NBL Division One league-leaders' Team Solent Kestrels, while in the Women's National Cup the East Midlands outfit will take on Reading Rockets.
For a detailed breakdown of all the Cup Finals match-ups, including the Jnr. NBL Cup Finals, check out our National Cup Finals Preview feature by clicking below!
Read on for your usual roundup of the league match-ups taking place this weekend!
Leicester Warriors v Derby Trailblazers
Saturday 19 January 2019 - 3.00pm
Leicester Warriors were able to bounce back from a loss at the hands of Reading to pick up a crucial win over Manchester Magic on the road last weekend, improving to 5-9 on the season. The East Midlands squad have done a solid job lately picking up wins against the teams in-and-around them, as they slide up the table away from the danger of relegation to now sit one win back from the final playoff spot. The improved play of the Warriors has been highly influenced by the mid-season addition of Raphell Thomas-Edwards, who again impressed on the road in the North West with a 23 point, 15 rebound effort.
Meanwhile, making the short trip across the East Midlands are the Derby Trailblazers, who head to Braunstone Leisure Centre off the back of three back-to-back losses to start 2019. A difficult stretch since the turn of the year has seen Coach Matt Shaw's squad slide down the table to seventh place with a .500 record; their undefeated start to the season now only a distant memory. Malcolm Smith remains a solid contributor for the Blazers, as he led Derby with 22 points in their recent loss against Reading. Coach Shaw will be hoping his US import forward can get the best of the battle on the inside, with Thomas-Edwards likely to provide significant resistance in the paint.
Team Newcastle v Manchester Magic
Saturday 19 January 2019 - 3.00pm
Just one victory separates Team Newcastle from the dangers of the bottom two places in NBL Division One, as the North East side hold a 4-8 record heading into this one. Last time out Coach Ian Hewitt's side were unlucky to not pinch a win on the road at the high-flying Loughborough Riders, as a tight low-scoring affair went the way of the hosts. Nikola Urli led Newcastle with 12 points off the bench in that one, while Eric Stafford supported with 11. Hoping for a good result on their home floor in this one, Coach Hewitt's side have every chance of picking up a win that could be vital down the stretch in the race for survival in the top-flight.
Making the trip to the North East are a Manchester Magic side that are having somewhat of a season to forget. The perennial powerhouse from the North West sit bottom of the table with a 1-12 record, in significant danger of dropping out of the top flight for the first time since earning promotion in 2012/13. Last time out the Magic hosted fellow bottom four side Leicester Warriors in hope of victory, but took a painful single digit loss as their woes continued. Manchester's sole victory this season came on their home floor against their opposition in this one; a single point victory back in November. Coach Simon Fisher will be hoping his side can repeat this triumph; he will need the stellar play of Richard Bell to continue on the inside, while mid-season addition Ryan Lewis has added a much-needed scoring punch on the perimeter.
Nottingham McDonalds Hoods v Essex Leopards
Saturday 19 January 2019 - 6.30pm
Coming off back-to-back wins to start 2019, the Nottingham McDonalds Hoods have propelled themselves into sixth place with a 7-6 record, well in control of their fate as they chase a debut appearance in the NBL Division One playoffs. Last weekend's victory over Bradford was especially impressive, as Nottingham showed out on both ends of the floor with an explosive offensive effort matched only by their stifling defense. The danger men for the Leopards to slow are the inside-outside combination of Delaney Powell and Cole Welle, as Powell led from perimeter with 19 points and nine assists last week, while Welle did his work on the inside as he matched his teammate's scoring effort and added 10 rebounds.
Heading into their second back-to-back in a row, the Essex Leopards will be hoping to continue their good form, having bounced back from a loss against Team Solent to pick up two wins last weekend. Opening up their weekend with a narrow victory on the road at Barking, the Big Cats needed late-game heroics to down the Crusaders as Sam Newman hit the game-winning lay-up en route to a team-high 14 points. Returning home on Sunday, the Leopards had a much easier route to chalking up another win, as a commanding performance saw them pick up a routine win over the travelling Riders in a 32-point blowout. Luke Mascall-Wright had an eye-catching 42 point performance on the day to lead the Big Cats; Coach Thomas Baker will be hoping for more of the same from his explosive swingman against the Hoods.
Hemel Storm v Thames Valley Cavaliers
Saturday 19 January 2019 - 7.00pm
Having not been in action last weekend, Hemel will be hoping the week off can see them suitably rested and ready for this tough match-up as they host the in-form Thames Valley Cavaliers. A fortnight ago, Storm picked up just their third win of the season with a single-digit victory on the road at the Blazers, behind an explosive 35-point performance from Blayne Freckleton. Hoping to pick up their rhythm after a week off, Coach Robert Youngblood and his side still need to pick up a couple of results as they search for a route out of the bottom two, with tricky games to come.
Meanwhile, the visitors making the trip from West London up to Hertfordshire are the Thames Valley Cavaliers, with Coach Robert Banks' side coming off one of the biggest shock results of the season so far. A big performance on their home floor saw the Cavs deal the league-leading Team Solent Kestrels just their second loss of the league season, a triumph which vaulted the West London squad into fifth place in the league. Abdoulaye Sylla, a previous NBL Player of the Week recipient, was exceptional for Thames Valley as he paced his side with 24 points and 16 rebounds in the win. Coach Banks will be hoping for more of the same against a Hemel Storm desperate to not pick up their first loss of 2019.
Essex Leopards v Bradford Dragons
Sunday 20 January 2019 - 4.00pm
The final action in NBL Division One this weekend will see Essex Leopards play host to the Bradford Dragons at the Brentwood Centre, as the National Cup Finals take place at their usual home at the Essex Sport Arena. This match-up will see the Big Cats finish up the second of four straight back-to-backs, as a bruising schedule throughout January and February has the Leopards barely stopping to take a breath. Returning home after a Saturday road trip to the East Midlands, the Big Cats will be hoping for a repeat of their home performance last weekend against Loughborough as they dominated the match-up en route to a blowout win.
Meanwhile, making the trip down to Brentwood are a Bradford side who have not enjoyed the best start to 2019. An exciting victory over Team Solent Kestrels to head into the festive break had the Dragons full of hope for the second half of the season, but back-to-back to losses against Barking and Nottingham has brought Coach Chris Mellor's side back down to Earth, now chasing results to stay in the playoff race. Despite the lop-sided loss at the hands of the Hoods last weekend, Rihards Sulcs did the best he could for his side, continuing his impressive season with a double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds, while Ricky Fetske added a double-double of his own with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
London United v Greenwich Titans
Saturday 19 January 2019 - 4.00pm
Just two games in a quiet NBL Division Two weekend tips off with a cross-capital match-up as London United play host to Greenwich Titans. An up-and-down season thus far has the hosts sitting mid-table with a 4-4 record, as they prepare for their first action of 2019. Yet to play the Titans this season after the visitor's promotion into the second tier, United will hope for a better performance to start the New Year than the one that sent them into the festive break; a lop-sided loss at the hands of Westminster Warriors. Top scorer in the last two outings for the West London squad has been Tomas Butrimas, the danger man that Greenwich may need to key in on to slow down the hosts.
Making the journey across the capital to Alec Reed Academy are a Greenwich Titans that have not enjoyed life in the second tier thus far this season. Currently bottom of the league with a 1-7 record, the Titans' losing spell dates right back to the opening day of the season, when an upset victory over Westminster kick-started their campaign. Arturo Noha-Pascual and Ray Akpofure have both have solid seasons thus far as they shoulder the scoring load, but the Titans will need contributions across the board if their fortunes are going to change.
London Greenhouse Pioneers v Liverpool
Sunday 20 January 2019 - 1.30pm
After two losses to start the season, London Greenhouse Pioneers have turned their season around with an impressive run of victories that now sees them into third place with a 7-2 record. Holding a win-streak that dates back to November, the Pioneers tip off their 2019 by hosting the top dogs in NBL Division Two; the biggest challenge of their run thus far. Coach Predrag Krneta's side have been tough to stop this season with so many weapons that can step up, as Kyle Diaz, Max Hufschlag and Mariano Lussenhoff have all put in big performances of late to lead the Greenhouse squad.
The visitors to CitySport in this one are one of the only remaining undefeated teams left in the entire NBL, as the 9-0 league-leading Liverpool side makes the trip down to the capital. Another side tipping off their 2019 after two weeks off since the festive break, the Merseyside squad will be suitably rested following a very impressive first half of the season. Mid-season addition Kaphel Ulett-Waul returned to Liverpool following a spell with Manchester Magic in Division One, and the explosive guard found his form in the final game before the break with 32 points; only adding to the firepower at Coach Delme Herriman's disposal.
For full Scores & Schedules for this weekend's action, click the link below: