Title race weekend as Glasgow Rocks Wheelchair Basketball look to make it two for two over Knights
Glasgow Rocks Wheelchair Basketball Team gained promotion to Division 1 North during the 2016/17 season, which led to a successful partnership with professional BBL side, Glasgow Rocks. After only one season in Division 1, the club is now making a group effort towards promotion to the Premier Division (the highest level of Wheelchair Basketball in Britain). This promotion will take one of their 4 teams into the Premier League, whilst they will also have a second team in the British Wheelchair Basketball league competing in Division 3. The club also features two sides in the SBC Wheelchair league and both sit near the top of the table too.
The Owls and Sheffield Steelers cannot gain promotion as they already have a team in the Premier Division. These games remain important though in terms of picking up points that Mavericks and NI Knights do not. This is ultimately creating a 3 way battle between NI Knights, Manchester Mavericks and Glasgow Rocks. Jaguars have lost all their games so far.
The league is one of the most exciting in the country at the moment, with Rocks sitting atop of the table, 3rd and 4th placed, The Owls and Sheffield Steelers, have a few games in hand but cannot get promoted due to already having a Premier League team. This has resulted in a 3-way race for promotion between the Rocks, Manchester Mavericks and this weeks opponent, Norther Ireland Knights.
Despite being out of the promotion race, the games against The Owls and Steelers are still important for Rocks. The currently lose out on the head to head with Manchester, despite taking the W at home last weekend after missing 5 named players in the opening week of the season in the first matchup in Manchester.
It all gets very interesting after Rocks took a narrow 2 point win over Knights at home this season, the first time Northern Ireland had lost a game all season. With this win, the head to head with Manchester could become irrelevant if they can pull out a win over Steelers having already got the win over The Owls on St Patricks day and Knights expectedly beat Mavericks.
Looking like they’ll need some luck in fixtures they can’t control, to give them the best chance of promotion, Rocks Head Coach Jen Scally will be hoping the things will go as planned. This weekend will be one to remember as she makes a return to her native land, Northern Ireland, giving her family a chance to see her take charge in a team she’s put so much effort in to.
Northern Ireland are looking very strong this year, with GB Junior Conn Nagle and Matthew Rollston (played Professionally for Bordeaux in France last season). Jason Kennedy for Knights was clinical in the first game, stepping up to score for Knights in the final quarter time after time (who returns to the UK League this year following representing Knights in the Irish League). For Rocks – Gordon Reid and David Beattie did a great job of slowing down the Knights in the first game. David Hird stepped up as a great defenseman. James Beattie and Ben Leitch did well to step up as leaders whilst capitalise on their height within the key.
Rocks have their own leaders in veteran guard, Gary Davidson, Pete Moore and Saudi Arabian Internationalist Abdulrahman Bin Shaylan.
Davidson told The Church of Hoops,
“Another top of the tree game coming up on Saturday against our friends and rivals Belfast knights. We’re dubbing it “Celtic clash part 2”.,the first leg was an absolutely brilliant game, it’s going to be another ferocious encounter, we were the first team to defeat knights this season.”
A trip over the water means it is a long business trip in hand for the team, something Davidson is keen his team take full advantage of.
“It’s pivotal in our ambitions as we’re potentially going 6 points ahead of Manchester Mavericks. But I’m going to be asking everyone at rocks to ask themselves not what your teammates can do for you. Ask yourself what you can do for your teammates and get the job done. Be professional on and off court is in our ethos and this will be on show on Saturday.”
The line up for this weekends game will be
David Wallace Hird
Abdulrahman Bin Shaylan
Head Coach: Jen Scally
Assistant Coach: Bobby Park