PAUL James believes his Worcester Wolves players will rise to the challenge of defeating Leicester Riders in their British Basketball League Trophy semi-final.
Wolves host the league leaders at the University of Worcester tomorrow (7.30- pm) aiming to secure a crucial advantage going into Saturday’s second leg in Leicester.
Having won six games in a row this month, including the 94-88 quarter-final triumph at defending champions Newcastle Eagles, Worcester are riding the crest of a wave.
They are also out to improve on the last time they reached a semi-final when Plymouth Raiders ousted them 193-172 on aggregate in the BBL Cup in December 2011.
“I think this is up there with when we played Plymouth last season in the semi-final of the BBL Cup,” director of basketball James said. “We froze in that game because the occasion was too big for us but we’ve got some really good, experienced players this year who’ve been in championship games before and know the importance.
“I’m pretty sure they’re not going to freeze on the night. It’s going to be a fantastic game and a real battle in front of a capacity crowd.
“Leicester are bringing a load of people here so it’s going to be loud and hopefully we can make the people of Worcester proud.”
Wolves are also aiming for revenge after back-to-back league defeats against the Riders this season, 79-61 in October and 89-82 last month but both games were in the East Midlands.
Leicester are top of the BBL table having lost just twice in 22 matches this season and are also the newly-crowned BBL Cup champions.
With that in mind, James, this week named BBL coach of the month, knows the importance of making the most of home advantage tomorrow.
He added: “Leicester is a tough place to go and play so if we’re going to get it done we’ve got to get it done here on our court.
“If we come out and play the kind of basketball that we’ve been playing over the last month, we’re going to give ourselves a great chance of coming through this tie.”
Point guard Sherrad Prezzie-Blue will be back following four games out with a knee injury but is likely to have to settle for a place on the bench.
The Wolves chief added: “Sherrad will play some part but we have been playing well without him so we will start the same way and introduce him gradually when we need to.”
Tickets will be available on the door for the match, costing £13 for adults and £7 for concessions and children.