Scorchers begin the 2019-20 season where they left-off at the end of the last one – with a game against Bristol Flyers.
Creon Raftopoulos takes his new-look Scorchers to the WISE Arena hoping for a repeat of April’s thrilling victory in the first of ten BBL Cup group stage games which start the new campaign.
Scorchers have won four of their last five meetings with the Flyers, but the hosts prevailed the last time Scorchers visited Bristol, in March 2019, with a 80-73 win.
CoachAndreas Kapoulashas added four new signings to his roster, to augment the retention of seven members of the squad which finished 10thin last season’s BBL.
New faces include Canadian guard Gentrey Thomas, former Great Britain Under 20 international Raphell Thomas-Edwards from Leicester Warriors, American rookie Levi Bradley, and Josh Rogers, who returns to his boyhood team from London City Royals.
Forward Daniel Edozie returns for his fifth Flyers season, Jordan Nicholls his fourth, and Panos Mayindombe and Chris Taylor will embark upon their third, whilst Lewis Champion, Marcus Delpeche and Fred Thomas all stay for a second year.
“Flyers are a very well-coached side,” says Creon, “and some of their new signings are players that we looked at trying to get this summer, so we know they are a very well-equipped team.”
Whilst admitting “we’ll probably go into every game as a little bit of an underdog”, Raftopoulos also asserts: “We’re going to embrace that status. This is going to be a fast-paced, aggressive Scorchers team, and we’re going there to win. We know what we’re capable of and we’ve got to play to the best of our abilities.”
6ft 6 Milwaukeean Marcus White, finally in the UK after being grounded in America by Hurricane Dorian, scored 20 points on his Scorchers debut in last Saturday’s final pre-season game against Team Solent Kestrels, and should feature against the Flyers alongside final new signing, 6ft 7 American forward James Hawthorne.
“James showed a lot of energy, defensively,” highlighted Creon, “so I’m excited about what he brings to the table. But this week we start finding out exactly where we are, as a team”
Scorchers return home next Saturday, 28 September, to host Worcester Wolves at Surrey Sports Park, and Creon knows his side must make the Sports Park Arena a fortress. “There’s not many clubs in this league, or in any sport, that can go through a bad patch like we’ve had and have the supporters remain loyal to us. They were absolutely amazing last year and we need all their support behind us again, making that noise to push the guys from buzzer to buzzer.”
Setting his sights on the BBL Play-Offs after a one-year absence, Creon continues: “We’ve got a group of guys who want to play for us. They’ve all got a positive attitude, and we want to play our own brand of basketball rather than focus on what the opposition are doing.
“Every team that comes to the Sports Park will know that it will be noisy and they are in for a tough game.”
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