Plymouth Raiders sign British centre Liam Potter
MARJON Plymouth Raiders have signed British centre Liam Potter on a rolling one-month deal.
The 26-year-old, who has spent the last two and a half weeks on trial at the club, is set to make his full Raiders debut in tomorrow's opening BBL Championship game against London Lions at the Pavilions (4pm).
The 7ft, third-year professional has been recruited to provide cover for big-man Anthony Rowe, who is set to be out until November at least with a serious knee injury.
But Raiders boss Gavin Love, in an ideal world, hopes Potter will spend the season at the Pavilions and increase his core rotation to eight.
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Potter hails from Grimsby, Lincolnshire and has real pedigree.
He split his rookie year out of Sacred Heart University, New England, the USA, between Khimik in Ukraine's top division and BBL rivals Leicester Riders.
Last season Potter impressively helped Prievidza lift the league title in Slovakia's top-flight.
Potter averaged 5.2 points and 4.7 rebounds in 13 minutes per game in 2011/12.
Were Prievidza not keen to retain the bulk of a championship-winning team?
Potter said: "It was funny. We all got asked back, but it was the start of the off-season, so obviously guys wanted to see what other jobs there were out there.
"Then, the club signed a whole new group of players. I guess they wanted to go another way."
Meanwhile, Love hopes Raiders can win – and in style – in front of a full house at the Pavilions tomorrow.
"I'm glad we're at home," he said. "There will be nerves but they will be nerves of excitement.
"This is a game we love to play. It's not just about putting food on the table. Hopefully the players are going to enjoy themselves tomorrow."
With Potter replacing Rowe in Raiders' rotation, there are now five new faces alongside returning guards Jeremy Bell and Michael Ojo.
Love added: "Hopefully we're going to entertain and the fans will enjoy it.
"I hope we have a big crowd and I hope we get big crowds this season, because we're going to play that run and gun style of basketball which will be even more exciting than we were last year.
"We're fast, we're quick and we're athletic. Hopefully it will be worth the price of admission, that's for sure."
Guard Drew Lasker, back at Raiders after two years away, said: "It's always nice to kick-off at home, because in that first game you're never quite sure how it's going to go.
"Being at home just gives you that extra advantage, because everybody's that little bit more comfortable.
"You also have your home crowd behind you and the fans will be buzzing and ready to go, because they're hoping it's going to be a great year."
Raiders comfortably went 4-0 in pre-season, but Lasker says tomorrow's game against a nine-deep Lions team will be different.
"Tomorrow will be totally different from pre-season," he said. "Pre-season can be fool's gold if you're being honest.
"If we don't come to play tomorrow, I think we'll get beat. London are very talented. We need to be focused."
Lasker has come off Raiders' bench in a low-key pre-season personally.
He added: "I wanted to get a feel for the guys and start to feel comfortable playing with them, but I didn't want to go too hard in pre-season because I had turned my ankle so coach limited my minutes.
"Yes, you want to test things out but you want to be smart. It's a very long season. Tomorrow is when it's time to start leaving it all out there."
Lions are 0-2 after the opening weekend of the new BBL season and revolve around key scorers, wing-men Orlan Jackman and Duane James.
Up front, ex-Surrey Heat pair Mike Martin and Tayo Ogedengbe provide the punch.
"London are very deep," said Love. "They have a lot of guys who can cause damage and they're going to get out on offence and run. It's going to be a good game.
"We might be more organised than they are, but we'll have to battle. They will want to get their first win this season, but then so do we."
Lasker said: "We've worked extremely hard in pre-season. Now we're just at the point where we are trying to all get on the same page with our offensive sets.
"It's about knowing the sets and then executing them. They have to come second nature; you can't think about it or then it will be too late.
"It only takes one guy to be out of position and it ruins the play, so we've spent a lot of time on them this week.
LAST night: BBL Championship: Manchester 99 Sheffield 87, Newcastle 81 Worcester 73