DURHAM WILDCATS go into a double-header of games in very much uncharted territory.
After recording just three victories in their debut season in the British Basketball League, Wildcats have seemingly settled into life in the top flight this time around by matching that score already.
And a 69-64 victory at home to Manchester Giants saw Wildcats record their firstever back-to-back maximums in their short time as a professional entity.
Head coach Dave Elderkin believes that his side’s strength in the second half of games is a key attribute to their success this campaign and feels it will stand them in good stead for this weekend’s fixtures - starting tonight when they visit Crystal Palace to face London Lions, before heading back to Newton Aycliffe to face Plymouth Raiders on Sunday.
“From the start of the season we’ve been a team that’s played better in the second half. It’s not something we’ve planned, it’s just happened – we’re working on it,” said Elderkin.
“Against Manchester we didn’t play badly for the first 25 minutes, we just didn’t shoot the ball very well and found ourselves 18 points down with 17 minutes left to play.
“The Giants are well-organised and play exactly the way you expect a Jeff Jones team to play. We paid particular attention to David Watts who had a 22 point game against the Raiders and David Aliu – a player I like a lot. But, knowing what they do is one thing, stopping it is another, and it was Stefan Gill and James Jones who collectively made 26 of their 42 first half points.
“We got more energy into our team defence in the second half and this proved to be the springboard for the 39-22 point second half scoreline that gave us a five point winning margin - nine second half steals certainly helped.”
Lions will look to repeat their 79-76 BBL Cup victory against Durham tonight, but Elderkin knows what to expect as his side prepare for the long trip to Crystal Palace.
He said: “We’ve already met the Lions in the BBL cup and they had a strong front line of Tayo Ogedegebe, Duane James, Orlan Jackman and Mike Martin.
“We didn’t contain them inside very well in the first half giving them too many post up opportunities, drives and cuts to basket.
“Our interior defence did a much better job in the second half and we must play this way when we meet on Friday night, particularly as they’ve added more height with the acquisition of Phil Wait. They are not short of outside shooters and Adrien Sturt can be particularly dangerous from the corners.
“We relied far too much on long range shots and will need a much more balanced inside/outside game this time around to give ourselves an opportunity to win this game.”
Tip-off against Plymouth at Newton Aycliffe is 4pm on Sunday, tickets are £6 adults and £4 concessions.