Love believes Raiders are ready to face Heat
GAVIN LOVE believes Marjon Plymouth Raiders fans can look forward to a high-scoring, fast-paced game at the Pavilions tomorrow (4pm).
Raiders entertain Surrey Heat in the BBL Championship. Both teams have started the new season strongly and have 3-0 and 5-1 records, respectively.
Tomorrow is the first time either will have faced a fellow top team.
Raiders boss Love said: "Surrey have had a great start. This will be our first real challenge this season, in terms of playing against a team who have won a lot of games."
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Raiders currently lead the league in scoring by some distance, averaging 104.3 points per game.
Defending champions Newcastle Eagles' offence is currently ranked second, but only averaging 89.4 points.
Raiders naturally like to run a high-tempo offence, but so do Heat, says Love.
"I think Surrey need the game to be quick. They need to get up and down the floor," said Love. "It could be a high scoring game tomorrow and one the fans will enjoy."
Heat coach Creon Raftopoulos wants to quieten one of the loudest crowds in the BBL tomorrow.
He said: "The Pavilions is one of the loudest venues to visit. Controlling the tempo of the game and working to keep their fans quiet will be key."
Raftopoulos has introduced four new faces this season into an eight-man rotation – two starters (point-guard Chavis Holmes and forward and former Raider Sam Cricelli) and two bench players (rookies Peter Simek and Caylin Raftopoulos).
Guards Albert Margai and Martelle McLemore, and forwards Julius Joseph and Frank Holmes have been retained.
Heat are on a three-game winning streak.
After struggling last season and finishing 12-18, and eighth, in the BBL, they are arguably the surprise package so far in the 2012/13 campaign.
But Creon Raftopoulos knows tomorrow will reveal a lot about his new-look line-up.
He said: "We have good chemistry and are happy with our start, but are not getting ahead of ourselves."
Heat are coming off a 84-78 home win over Glasgow Rocks last Sunday.
Heat led by 10 points, 43-33 at half-time and outworked Rocks inside, outscoring Sterling Davis' team 64-40 in points in the paint.
Heat currently have the second meanest defence in the BBL, averaging 69.8 points against per game.
Love, too, wants his players to start clamping down at that end of the floor following a comfortable but uninspired 100-84 win over Cheshire Jets at the Pavilions last Friday.
Love said: "We're leading the league in scoring – we've done it for two years in a row – but my focus now is ensuring we limit teams scoring at the other end.
"We reviewed the game-tape from the Cheshire game and it was glaringly obvious to some players that they weren't on their A-game.
"Our transition defence and general communication against Cheshire was poor.
"We have to improve that and let each other know what's going on out there. "The good thing is we're addressing these things before we've lost.
"Yes, we can do better, but we're doing alright – we're 3-0."
Love added: "We're not just going to outscore Surrey; we have to play defence – and Surrey are clearly playing good defence."
Raiders' point-guard Jeremy Bell said: "You get motivated and ready for games, but sometimes you play to the level of your competition.
"But we can't afford to do that. We have to take advantage of every game we play and try to build some continuity into our performances.
"We're trying to get better and have been focused in practice this week. I think we'll be ready tomorrow."
Raiders have been frustrated by a stop-start early season schedule and played fewer games than 7-0 leaders Eagles.
Bell added: "Practice is practice at the end of the day. You can get complacent. We can't let that cross over into games."
Love said: "We have to focus, because we have to play better than we did against Cheshire.
"Surrey haven't played one of the perceived top teams yet and neither have we. Tomorrow could be a real eye-opener for one team. We'll see."
PLYMOUTH Marjon aim to make no mistakes against 0-3 Ealing in Division Three South of the EBL at UCP Marjon tomorrow (3pm).
Marjon are currently 3-0 and top of the standings, but have this week lost centre and leading scorer Tomas Janusauskas, who was averaging 24.0 points per game this season, to Division One club Reading Rockets.
Admission to Marjon tomorrow is free.