Scorchers defend their BBL All-Stars Championship title this Sunday at the Copper Box Arena, and Coach Creon Raftopoulos is hoping that a similar, swashbuckling approach to last year will again earn its rewards.
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“We’re really looking forward to it. We’ll approach it hopefully the same way as we did last year, and have the same results,” admitted Creon, who identifies “fast, up-tempo basketball” as the key to success in the shorter format of the game. “It’s ‘run-and-gun’. I don’t think we’ve run as well as we’d like to (this season), so hopefully with the 14-second shot clock it will release guys and allow them to show their true ability.”
With the three-point accuracy of shooters like Skyler White and Henry Wilkins already to the fore this season, Creon hopes their prowess from distance will stand them in good stead when they find themselves in the All-Stars Five Point zone. “They say in basketball that you live by the three and you die by the three, so hopefully we can do a lot of living by the three, and then we’ll be absolutely fine. We have some good shooters, but they key will be getting the defensive stops and then getting out in transition.”
With two consecutive losses bringing immediate elimination, a fast start to the day is crucial, but having taken the alternative route to glory last year, Scorchers will know that defeat in their opening game, against London City Royals, need not be a disaster.
“We lost our first game last year, which put a little bit of pressure on us going into our second game. We’d rather win our first game and that will help us advance, but the key for us is just taking one game at a time. Royals are one of the better teams in the BBL, and we’ll embrace our underdog title again and try to cause some upsets.”
Royals are one of two teams making their All-Stars debut, along with Cheshire Phoenix, and are joined by 2017 Champions London Lions, last year’s finalists Leicester Riders, B. Braun Sheffield Sharks, Radisson Red Glasgow Rocks and Newcastle Eagles in competing for the £25,000 first prize.
Whilst two losses mean elimination, two victories propel a team straight into the semi-finals. One victory out of two gives teams a second chance, with a Play-Off fixture to decide the final four. Featuring multiple 12-minute games, an All-Star 5-point line and the Golden Buzzer Power Play, the British Basketball All-Stars Championship is a non-stop afternoon of fast-paced basketball action which is now in its third year.