The Scorchers begin a five-game road-stretch on Friday, making the short trip to The Copper Box Arena to face BBL leaders London Lions – and coach Creon Raftopolous wants his team to relish the opportunity of causing an upset.
The Scorchers returned to winning ways in their last appearance on the Surrey Sports Park boards, with a convincing 90 – 69 victory against fifth-place DBL Sharks Sheffield, and now Raftopolous says: “Where we’re sitting in the table, a lot of teams might have pencilled that (fixture) in as a win, so we’ve got to use that as motivation. And my players are showing a lot of pride to finish the season as strong as possible.
“The guys have been working hard. London is going to be tough, they’re the league leaders, but we go there wanting to give a good account of ourselves.”
From the Olympic Park, his team immediately head west to face 7th-place Plymouth Raiders on Sunday afternoon, looking to exact revenge for the home defeat in early February.
“We’ve obviously struggled defensively, but our defence against Sheffield was the best it’s ever been – that helped us to get the win on the board, which I feel was very important, because our fans have been absolutely amazing with us this season, so to reward them with that was a big relief,” he praised. “Consistency is the keyword, especially on the defensive end – at the end of the day, everybody is going to count the win and loss columns, and nobody is going to care if it was a one-point loss or a 20-point loss.
“We know that, and we want to make sure that we keep our performances at the same levels as we had against the Sharks.”
New signing Chaed Wellian will be available for selection on Friday evening to help bolster that defensive unit, although Henry Wilkins, admits Coach Creon, “is struggling to make it this weekend”, whilst Caylin Raftopolous hopes to shake of a heavy bout of flu to be available for selection.
Raftopolous hopes that winning can again become a familiar habit for the Scorchers in their remaining matches in the 2018-19 BBL season, but continues to take things game-by-game rather than setting longer-term targets.
“As a team, one of the most important things is to finish off really strong at home,” he reiterates, “because our fans have been so good to us. I think we have the toughest schedule to finish the season, but there are no easy games in the BBL. The players know that they are playing for their futures, to show that they are capable of doing something. It’s important that everybody is accountable and gives their best in every game.
“We’re going to be on the road for a while, and hope that we can pick up some road wins, and then come back home to give the fans another good performance.”
The Scorchers are back at the Sports Park arena on Sunday 24 March, for a 2pm tip-off against Leicester Riders. Tickets are available here.