Love expecting big test against Wolves
MARJON Plymouth Raiders will be hoping to climb the BBL Championship standings when they return to league action at home to Worcester Wolves tomorrow (4pm).
Fourth-placed Raiders go into the Pavilions clash on 14 points, boasting a 7-3 record and with the chance of rising to joint third position with Surrey Heat should the latter slip up at home to Manchester Giants tonight.
If Wolves win tomorrow, they will go above Raiders in the table as they have the same number of points, albeit with seven wins from their 13 fixtures.
Raiders coach Gavin Love and star guard Jeremy Bell have promised there will be no hangover from last night's BBL Cup semi-final second leg at Newcastle Eagles.
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Both say they and their team-mates are as eager as the fans to solve the imbalance between their surprisingly patchy home form and impressive return away from the Pavilions this term.
Raiders have lost two out of their last three home matches: 97-84 to Glasgow Rocks in the league and 107-90 to Eagles in the BBL Cup semi first-leg punctuated by a 108-98 league win over London Lions.
Love said Worcester have every incentive to try to extend Raiders' homesick blues, and predicts a tough challenge from the visitors who he said had the makings of becoming a top-two side.
He said: "I have seen Worcester this season and they are a big, big team, who are starting to find their form.
"They will definitely give us a hard time. They are a team with strong and experienced players right across the board.
"Alex Owumi and Stanley Ocitti are very tough covers but all their guys can step up and hurt you in a variety of ways.
"We usually have good match-ups against Worcester and I fancy this one will be no different.
"We can't afford to have have any hangover from the cup semi-final in Newcastle.
"If we do Worcester will be on us like a flash."
Love added: "We've got to make the Pavilions a tough place to come to again. For some reason our home form has not been good enough this season.
"We've got great fans who make a hell of a noise when we're hot and give our players a lift and let the opposition know they are far away from home.
"We need to create that sort of intensity again – and soon."
Bell, who scored 29 points in Raiders' 107-90 defeat to Eagles last Sunday, admitted the home form had been a bit of a puzzle to the players this season.
He said: "Whether it's because we feel there is more pressure on us to put on a show, I don't know, but we know the home performances have not been up to our usual standard.
"We love playing in front of our fans. Hopefully, we can turn in a performance that will satisfy their and our expectations against Worcester."
Raiders and Wolves clashed seven times last season, with the Plymouth team edging the overall series.
Each side won on their opponent's court in the group stage of the BBL Trophy, though it was Raiders who progressed to the semi-finals.
In contrast, home court advantage was key in the three BBL Championship games with Wolves taking the series 2-1.
Raiders came out on top in the two-legged BBL Cup semi-final between the rivals.
Raiders hold an 18-8 lead in the all-time series between the two clubs since their elevation to the top flight after success in the EBL.