We are underdogs, says Raiders boss
MARJON Plymouth Raiders are again without star man Jeremy Bell for tonight's 'tough as they come' BBL Trophy clash at Worcester Wolves (7.30pm).
Raiders' American point guard is still in the United States 'sorting out personal issues' and misses his team's sudden-death encounter at Worcester University.
The winners of tonight's first-round tie will meet Newcastle Eagles in the quarter-finals of the competition in the new year.
Plymouth's head coach Gavin Love admitted Bell's continued absence leaves his side at a clear disadvantage against Wolves, whom he described as 'on paper the strongest team in the league'.
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Bell was given leave of absence from Raiders to fly back to the States before their BBL Championship match at Mersey Tigers, which the city side won by a whopping 38 points.
Michael Ojo stepped up to the mark in his compatriot's absence, leading all scorers with 34 points in Raiders' 103-65 victory at the Knowsley Leisure and Culture Park last Friday.
But while beating win-less, bottom-placed Tigers minus their main go-to man is one thing, repeating the performance tonight against fifth-placed Wolves on their own court is clearly a good deal more difficult.
Love insists Raiders will not be found wanting in desire as they strive to return home with a second win of the season over Worcester.
Raiders finished strongly at the Pavilions at the beginning of the month and deservedly claimed an 87-65 BBL Championship victory.
A similar score-line would do nicely for Love and his top-four team tonight in what is Raiders' final game of 2012.
Love said: "Coming away with a win from Worcester with Jeremy was always going to be hard, without him we're definitely not starting as favourites.
"Jeremy is still dealing with personal issues and until they are resolved, we're going to have to do without him.
"You're bound to miss a player who contributes 20 points on average per game, aren't you?
"But we've got some very good players and although we're going to be weakened by Jeremy not being available, we won't be lacking in hunger and desire, that's for certain.
"We've definitely got the toughest of the draws in the trophy, as Wolves are a big and athletic side.
"In my opinion Wolves have the deepest and most talented team in the BBL.
"And with the addition of Kai Williams and Sherrard Prezzie-Blue, Worcester are looking stronger by the day.
"They have size athletes and great shooters so will be tough to beat, especially on their home floor.
"We are smaller, in comparison, so will have to use that to our advantage, and play and shoot a lot on the outside.
"And we're going there on the back of two very good wins (against Leicester and Mersey), but it's fair to say we'll be starting tonight as underdogs."
RAIDERS' Mike Ojo and Javarris Barnett have been rewarded with places in the BBL team of the week for their performances against Mersey. For guard Ojo and forward Barnett, it is their debut appearance on the festive line-up.