May 25 2013 Latest news:
Michael Edwards, Sports Reporter
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
SAFFRON Stealers’ new coach is inviting the town to get behind the team ahead of their first home game this Sunday.
The Stealers welcome the Littleport Lions to Lord Butler Leisure Centre this weekend on the back of an opening day 85-51 win over St Neots on Monday night.
Head coach Neil Clay, who hung up his jersey last year, is hoping the appetite for basketball has intensified after the Olympics.
“Everyone should come and watch as basketball is quickly becoming more and more popular throughout the country because of its fast pace and the fact that it is actually a very physical game, despite its “non contact” label.
“It is definitely a great spectator sport, and what else have people got to do on a Sunday night from 7-9pm? Come and support your local team.”
Fans from last year and new ones should be excited about the Stealers’ chances with Clay at the helm. He told the Reporter he has set the bar very high after the success of last year’s squad, which won the Essex Cup.
“The players that we’ve added means that, if we stay injury free, we can easily compete for success in both the Cambs and Essex leagues as well as both cup competitions.
“I have made some major changes to the way we play on the court. I’m asking for a lot more from the guys, really highlighting the defensive side of the game, being a lot more physical and ultimately using a lot more energy.”
Despite the change in style, Clay is confident his team will remain strong even with the departure of Lithuanian brothers Daivaras and Ovis Visikskis and promising talent Tom Boxall from last year’s campaign. Anton Jarvis and Alex Purcell will also only be available on a limited basis.
However, Clay has recruited Alex Sullivan, who he described as “quality,” and youngsters Adrian Kiska and Jordan Cook. Cook in particular has been highlighted as “one to watch”.
“All in all we have 11 players signed. It’s a strong 11 with a good balance, and I have lots of different options for different line ups. I can quite easily go with a team of 6ft 4ins players or I can just as easily switch to a team built for speed.”
The club also has its sights firmly set on the future as it looks to capitalise on the success of London 2012 and inspire more youngsters to get involved.
“My overall plan is to add to the number of players we have at the club, especially youth players. By gaining success I hope to attract good, young players, enabling us to form a structured youth setup.
“I also want the club to be seen as a professional outfit, not just a social club, and also to be involved in the community.”
Sunday’s game (September 30) tips off at 7pm at the Lord Butler Leisure Centre. If this hasn’t got you ready for the Stealers’ home opener, check out the gallery for pictures from last year.
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