Surrey Scorchers coach Creon Raftopolous heads into this week’s road double-header against Bristol Flyers looking to build on the positives of another tough weekend in London and Plymouth.
The Scorchers suffered defeats against the Lions and Raiders but showed enough in both games – and particularly at The Copper Box against the BBL leaders – to suggest that a fifth victory of the season is within reach.
“It was very disappointing to come out of both games without getting a win,” admitted Creon. “London are the benchmark this season, but I felt that we competed with them. Unfortunately it just took one bad quarter where we just put ourselves in too much of a hole. Then moving on to Plymouth, it was again just one bad quarter that got us in trouble.”
Familiar failings proved costly, and highlighted the areas to focus on in practice this week. “Offensively we’ve been great, I’ve said that continuously, but it’s trying to figure out what we need to do on defence. Everybody knows that we can score, but sometimes we have a slow reaction to defending pick-and-roll situations.
“We’ve got to come ready to fight from the first tip-off. We need consistency for the 40 minutes,” he reiterated, knowing that his players’ commitment is never in doubt.
“We talk about ‘playing honest’. Everybody is playing really hard but sometimes guys are playing so hard they don’t want to come off the court, because they so badly want to win, and that makes us miss defensive assignments. They key is to play honest and trust in your team-mate to come on and do well. If we can get 40 minutes together, we can finish the season strong.”
Two players caught the eye over the weekend, and even saw the Scorchers lead the BBL’s Top 10 Plays for week 21 of the season. Chaed Wellian’s three-point shooting has been a highlight of his first two games in the duck-egg blue, whilst the familiar magic of Quincy Taylor continues to illuminate darker days.
“Chaed has been a breath of fresh air in a really tough season,” praised Coach Creon. “He’s one player that we’ve fought to bring in looking to next season. He’s settled in really well and hopefully his performances won’t be so great that other teams want to take him away from us!
“I feel for Quincy, he’s easily one of the best Point Guards in the league and our record doesn’t back that up. But I can’t get on at any of the guys, we just have to keep on playing hard.”
Nonetheless, there remains much to achieve for both Scorchers and Flyers in the final eight weeks of the BBL Championship. “We’re in a dogfight to finish the season strong, whereas they’re still fighting to make the Play-Offs, so we’ve both got a lot to play for. But the number one thing, as always, is pride, and we want to reward our fans with some good performances.
“We know that we have the toughest schedule to finish off the season, with three or four of our last games being against the two teams fighting for the league, but we’ll be wanting to cause an upset.”
Do the back-to-back games at the SGS WISE Arena present any unique opportunities or problems for the Scorchers? “It does make the week’s preparation a little bit easier,” admits Raftopolous, “and gives us an opportunity to stick to our gameplan – hopefully the first one goes well and then we don’t need to make too many changes going into the second game. But we’ll take the first game first and try to get a win on the board.”