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'Sharks Win Brings Renewed Hope For Play-off Push'

Ex-Flyers forward Tom Hutchinson hopes his former side can use the win over Sheffield as a springboard for an end-of-season play-off push.

A disappointing month in which play-off chasing Flyers failed to record a victory was quickly forgotten as March brought hope in the form of a desperately needed home BBL Championship win against fourth-placed Sheffield Sharks.

Tough February For Flyers

Unwanted Record

 Flyers’ 106-66 loss to Newcastle Eagles represents their biggest loss in the BBL since joining the league in 2014.

Flyers began February with a 40-point loss at home to reigning BBL champions and league-leaders Newcastle Eagles as injuries began to take their toll. A night to forget for Coach Andreas Kapoulas who has always focused and gained much success from a ‘defence wins games’ approach.

The following Friday saw Flyers again pitched as underdogs at the SGS WISE Arena in a hard-fought defensive battle with BBL Trophy champions Leicester Riders. Despite ongoing injury woes, Flyers produced a defensive effort worthy of their reputation (BBL third in points conceded). Riders are not a high-scoring team but win games with their defence, protecting the rim with tremendous length and depth. Flyers struggled to score the basketball at times but held Leicester to 66 points, not quite enough to challenge for the win in the final quarter.

February’s curse ended with a heart-breaking overtime away loss to long-time rivals Leeds Force who came away eventual 91-88 winners. Currently sitting in the final BBL Championship play-off position and Flyers convincingly beating Force at SGS WISE Arena, this was a game Flyers desperately needed to win in order to press on with their play-off ambitions. Cardell McFarland’s three in the dying seconds forced the game to overtime and looked to swing momentum in Flyers’ favour however Leeds continued to execute and held on down the stretch.

Marching Back To Form

Breaking The Streak

Flyers ended a sequence of three straight defeats to Sheffield Sharks with their 69-65 win at the SGS WISE Arena last Saturday.

Despite the disappointment of February, March has brought renewed optimism, the win against Sheffield perhaps the start of things to come for a now finally healthy Flyers team. You have to give credit where it’s due. The ability to come through a losing month and have the strength to bounce back united shows the toughness and belief not only in the coaching staff and players as individuals but most importantly the team as a unit.

Flyers now have 11 games to secure a play-off finish (eighth place or higher). If able to keep defensive consistency and execute offense cohesively as a unit they are more than capable of achieving their goal. It will be no easy feat however, as both Leeds Force and Plymouth Raiders have continued to improve of late.

Six Wins Needed?

Over the past four seasons, on average, 26 points have been enough to secure a play-off berth. Currently sitting on 14 points, Flyers will need to win six of their remaining 11 games to reach this total.

With March packed with seven games and Flyers healthy and ready to play, I expect big things over the next three weeks and it all starts this Saturday night when the Glasgow Rocks arrive at the SGS WISE Arena. Coach Kapoulas will not want a repeat of the last meeting when Glasgow scored 87 points. Containing Glasgow’s anchor in the middle, Keiron Achara and maintaining defensive intensity will be at the forefront of Coach Kapoulas’ preparation. Protecting the basket will prove vital in Flyers having a chance of coming away with the win.

Bristol Flyers face Glasgow Rocks in the BBL this Saturday, March 11th (7.30pm) - buy tickets online here.

Written by Tom Hutchinson - Tom played for Bristol Flyers from its inception in National League division three and was part of the roster that won promotions to divisions two and one before injury forced his early retirement.

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