It may still be early in the season, but one of the most wide-open and thrilling BBL Championship title races looks like potentially unfolding during the coming months.
Heading into this weekend, there are no fewer than five teams all locked on two losses at the top of the standings and it is even leaving those involved scratching their heads in trying to determine who might be favourites to prevail next April.
Paul James and Worcester Wolves are searching for an elusive first piece of silverware and having won at Leicester Riders last weekend, they head to Sport Central tomorrow looking to steal a march on fellow challengers Esh Group Eagles Newcastle.
“It’s great to be almost a third of the season in and still have so many teams in real contention for the BBL Championship title,” claimed James (pictured).
“I can’t call it, but what I do know is that come this Friday night, we will either be 4-0 or 3-1 against the top two teams in the league – a great situation for the Wolves to be in at this stage!
“I was really pleased with the way we stuck to our game plan against Leicester, since the last time we played them, we went away from what we wanted to do and ultimately paid the price.
“This time we did a much better job in crunch time of moving the ball and executing at the offensive end and then raising our defensive intensity, which made every shot Leicester took a very tough look.
“I think we have a fantastic league developing this season and with so many teams in contention we cannot afford to treat anybody lightly.
“It’s going to be another massive challenge for my team (at Newcastle), but one that we will look forward to.
“There will be some great match-ups on display and is sure to be another closely fought game.”
Eagles’ player-coach Fab Flournoy certainly knows what it is like to win titles and as he prepares his team to enter into a top-of-the table battle, he is trying to put things into perspective and take things step-by-step.
He confirmed, “It’s far too early to form an opinion since all these teams have to play each other three times this year and we are not even through 33% of the season yet.
“What we do know, is that you have to show up in every game ready to play hard or you won’t be successful.
“Which, as a coach, is something that I relish as it emphasises the importance to our players of continuing to strive to improve.”
As well as Wolves and the Eagles; Leicester Riders, One Health Sharks Sheffield and London Lions are also in the early mix.
Lions’ head coach Vince Macaulay is as excited as anybody with how things are brewing and pinpointed how difficult it now is to get away wins and how important home success could be.
He said, “It’s a tough race this year and I don’t think any team will pull away, because road wins are becoming tough to get.
“I think the top teams are either deep, experienced or talented, so it will be interesting to see what wins out in the end.
“It’s always great to win in this great venue at the Copper Box, in front of our growing army of fans.
“We are just glad that we have the team we set out to put together.
“The players have had some practices together now and hopefully we can concentrate on getting even better.”