Wildcats set to face fellow new-boys

First published in Basketball: Durham Wildcats The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

The two youngest franchises in British basketball go head to head at Durham University Sport tomorrow as Durham Wildcats host Manchester Giants.

The two sides have never met before, with the Giants only coming into existence this season and the Wildcats currently in their second campaign in the BBL.

Dave Elderkin's side have already claimed as many league successes as they managed in the whole of last season, but the Wildcats playcaller is expecting a tough test against a Giants side that have won three of their opening six games.

He said: "I know most of the Giants players well. On the evidence so far we expect David Aliu, David Watts, James Jones and Stefan Gill to be their main scoring threats, but Callum Jones, Devan Bailey and Morakinyo Williams all had good games against the Wildcats for other clubs last season.

"In one sense this is a new franchise, but in another it's a squad, a coach and a club with a vast amount of experience. We expect and are prepared for a tough game."

Elderkin was pleased to see his side pick up their second victory of the season last Sunday as a struggling Mersey Tigers were beaten by 20 points.

He said: "We were expected to win against the Tigers and that put a different kind of pressure on our squad. Much had been said about the Tigers being uncompetitive, well, they certainly turned up to play last Sunday.

"They played hard and were well organised, but I think we dealt with the situation well and earned our second win of the season. Putting 91 points on the board was good for us but a couple of parts of our defence needed addressing in practice as we prepared for the Giants."

Giants coach Jeff Jones is expecting a difficult game in the North-East, and has highlighted Ralph Bucci as the Wildcats' key perfomer.

He said: "I have known Dave for a long time and I think we approach the game the same way and expect the same kind of things from our players.

"They are pretty much like us in that they play good team basketball, and have a player who has great deal of experience and is still exceptionally important to them in Ralph. I think any time you have a player of that quality to lean on it makes your team naturally better."

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