Impressive Plymouth must step it up against Leicester, says Daniel Routledge
Plymouth impressed against Glasgow but must step it up against Leicester, says Daniel Routledge.
Last Updated: 17/04/13 10:49am
For me performance of the play-off quarter-finals was Plymouth's 20-point aggregate victory over Glasgow Rocks. The Rocks had been in phenomenal form in the last few months and on their own court they'd lost just once in their last ten games.
Plus with the games being back-to-back, Plymouth had a 500-mile flight both ways to the games. So when they pulled off an 11-point first leg victory at the Emirates it certainly caught my eye.
The Rocks overturned that deficit in the first half of the second leg, but credit to the Raiders who recovered to eventually win the game by nine points. Mike Ojo, who missed some games through injury late in the season, came up big for them with over 50 points across the tie and Colin O'Reilly had a huge double-double in the second leg.
Now the Raiders have the 'prize' of trying to prevent Leicester from making their fourth consecutive major final.
The Riders have only three meaningful defeats on their fixture list this season - the two defeats to the Wolves are downgraded by one being in a Leicester aggregate win and the other being when they rested six players having won the league - but one of those losses was in Plymouth in December.
I also saw a game between the sides earlier this campaign when the Raiders did pretty much everything but beat the Riders, somehow Leicester came out on top 83-80 when in truth Plymouth were the better team.
I certainly think that match-up is closer than the seedings may suggest; one thing I'm sure of is Plymouth will need a victory in the first leg. Away teams basically don't win at Leicester, you don't want to have to win there with your season on the line, take a lead to the Midlands to defend and you have a chance.
Drama of the round came in the Worcester-Surrey tie, with the Heat trailing by 13 points on aggregate with ten minutes remaining, before winning the fourth quarter 29-13 to take the tie by three-points overall. You cannot underestimate the belief a team must have in themselves to do that or the belief for their cause they get from doing it.
It was interesting to see that Travis Holmes finished third in the BBL Player of the Year voting, especially given his twin brother Chavis was a front-runner for the award in first half of the season. One wonders how good the Heat might have been if both had been able to play an entire season? With both fit and firing they are certainly good enough to win the play-offs.
And given their victory at Sports Central last month, they will head to Newcastle on Friday full of confidence of that I'm sure. But Newcastle will doubtless be spurred on by their desperation to hang on to the last of the four trophies they won last season, having seen the other three head to Leicester and Sheffield. It's a coin-toss tie to me.
As I predicted last week Drew Sullivan was named the league's MVP this week and his coach Rob Paternostro won the Coach of the Year award. That was pretty much a no-brainer given what he has achieved at Leicester this season.
Interestingly Fab Flournoy didn't make the top three in the coach's vote; if I were him I would take that a massive compliment. If finishing runners-up in league and cup isn't worth a top three vote, then your body of work must be pretty stunning. He is a victim of his own phenomenal success over the years.