Wildcats’ Page hopeful of a BBL play-off berth

PLAY-OFF HOPES: Durham guard Keith Page

PLAY-OFF HOPES: Durham guard Keith Page

First published in Sport

DURHAM WILDCAT Keith Page is optimistic his side can earn a place in the postseason play-offs, with BBL Championship points at stake in tonight’s trip to Plymouth Raiders.

Wildcats are still the playoff hunt in what looks likely to be a fascinating second half of the season, going into the game in 11th spot with a 5-13 record – but with games in hand over their rivals for a post-season spot.

And Wildcats guard Page said: “It’ll be a tough game but we need to keep going with the little run we’ve got.

“If we can get 12 wins I think we can get in the playoffs, we definitely have a chance of that. We still have to play Giants, Phoenix and Lions again and if we can get the tiebreaks that will give us a good chance.

“Plus we need to make sure we do a job in our two games against Mersey.”

Raiders will be looking to wrap up the season series between the teams having hammered Wildcats 113-68 in the north east in mid-November, and also won all four of last season’s meeting in Durham’s BBL debut season.

Durham playcaller Dave Elderkin is expecting an improvement this time around.

“It’s the second time we’ve played Plymouth, and the second time it’s been a TV game, we want to show the cameras that we are a very different Wildcats this time around,” said Elderkin, who takes his side to Cheshire Phoenix on Sunday afternoon in the second of a crucial double-header.

“They brought a very high tempo game to Aycliffe supported by some great shooting, and even with a change of personnel we don’t expect a different approach at the Pavilions.”

The battle for a place in the play-offs intensifies further at Northgate Arena on Sunday evening as Cheshire Phoenix host Durham Wildcats in a key match-up.

The teams have already met twice this season, with the home side coming out on top on each occasion. Wildcats won 101-96 at Newton Aycliffe Leisure Centre three weeks ago, while Phoenix were comfortable 106-72 winners in late November, and Sunday’s encounter will be the head-to-head decider if the teams finish level at the end of the season.

There looks to a five team pack chasing the final two play-off spots, and Phoenix top that mini-league, sitting in seventh place in the Championship table with an 8-11 record while Wildcats are 11th.

Elderkin knows what his side have to do if they want to clinch the head-to-head decider.

“They have scorers, and any team wanting to beat Cheshire has to match up tough right from the start,”

he said.

“If they go behind they test your defence with their penetration, that’s a five-man job and that’s the way it has to be on Sunday.”

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