Blaz­ers set for first meet­ing with Cava­liers

Derby Telegraph - - SPORT -

DERBY Trail­blaz­ers take on Thames Val­ley Cava­liers for the first time tonight.

The Cava­liers visit Clarence Wig­gins Sports Cen­tre (7.15pm) tonight in NBL Di­vi­sion One.

Orig­i­nally based in Portsmouth, Thames Val­ley Tigers be­gan life as the South­ern Pirates, be­fore be­com­ing Brack­nell Pirates and com­pet­ing in NBL D1 from 1982. In 1987, they joined the BBL, win­ning their first sil­ver­ware in 1988-89, be­fore chang­ing their name to Thames Val­ley Tigers.

For many years, they were a dom­i­nant force in the BBL, win­ning the league in 1984, be­fore famously be­ing knocked out of the play-offs by eighth-placed Derby Bucks, as Blaz­ers head coach Matt Shaw re­calls.

“Many of our older fans will re­mem­ber Tim Las­celles’ buzzer beat­ing three-pointer back in 1994, when Derby Bucks beat the BBL league cham­pi­ons Thames Val­ley Tigers in the first round of the play­offs,” said Shaw.

“To this day, it def­i­nitely ranks as one of my fond­est bas­ket­ball mem­o­ries.

“This Thames Val­ley team seem to have set­tled very well into life in Di­vi­sion One.

“They ap­pear to have a good blend of youth and ex­pe­ri­ence and also have a lot of size and ath­leti­cism.

“It’s go­ing to be a real chal­lenge. “Hav­ing Oli Stan­ley back in our line-up is a huge bonus. He made an im­pact last week­end and I think we will see his fit­ness im­prove fur­ther in the com­ing weeks.

“The bad news is that Jake Chil­vers looks like he’ll be out for the sea­son with an an­kle in­jury that re­quires surgery.

“Jake, who of course came through the club as a ju­nior, has been bat­tling hard through the pain but at least he fi­nally has a di­ag­no­sis now.”

The old Thames Val­ley side sadly ceased to be in 2005, when owner John Nike pulled the plug on fund­ing.

How­ever, a group of fans got to­gether and ap­pealed to the BBL, tak­ing over the fran­chise op­er­at­ing out of Guild­ford Spec­trum un­der the name of Guild­ford Heat.

The new club has risen rapidly through the NBL di­vi­sions, fin­ish­ing as run­ners-up to Not­ting­ham in Di­vi­sion Two last sea­son and earn­ing pro­mo­tion to di­vi­sion one.

They are led in scor­ing by Amer­i­can Martelle McEl­more, who av­er­ages just shy of 22 points per game but who net­ted an ex­tra­or­di­nary 44 point haul in their win over Brad­ford last week­end, off the back of 72% floor shoot­ing.

His team-mate Ha­keem Sylla bet­tered that per­cent­age, with an as­ton­ish­ing 86% suc­cess rate.

With shoot­ing like that, Derby will have to be at the best de­fen­sively against a side which has nine play­ers stand­ing 6’6” or above.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.