Teesside v TV Mohawks | Game Preview
Teesside Lions will host another bumper crowd when more than 800 basketball fans travel to Eston Arena to see them entertain local rivals TV Mohawks.
Up until last week the billing was two undefeated teams meeting to not only claim local bragging rights in the first of three fixtures between the sides, but also an opportunity to place one hand on the league title.
With the Mohawks losing to Calderdale Explorers last week Teesside Lions and Milton Keynes remain the only unbeaten of 50+ teams in Division Three across the UK.
The Mohawks will be looking to bounce back from their defeat to Calderdale but the last team they would have wanted to face is their local derby rivals. If they can beat the Lions on their own court and in front of an overwhelming set of home fans it will be the first time Teesside have lost at Eston Arena in nearly two years.
Mohawks will be led by American player Juvante Hayes who has been leading the scorers since joining the team. The skilful guard has a strong ability to create his own shots and hit 29pts in the loss against Calderdale. His season high is 31pts against Sheffield.
He is supported by versatile wings Dan Kelsey and Cameron Johnson who are both averaging around the 10-15 points per game mark. Jake Butler is another player to watch and has the ability to produce big numbers.
The big test for Mohawks is whether they can play well enough over 40 minutes to overcome Teesside on their home court.
Teesside are the team to beat and have built an excellent foundation for spectator orientated basketball under owner James Thomson. The club have assembled a very strong team of talented players led by 7 foot captain and local hero Theo Turner, who had an MVP performance last weekend.
The MVP performances seem to be organically shared among the Lions and is testament to the way Coach Oliver Hylands has got the team playing unselfish team basketball, which is hard to do when there is a depth of talented players.
Luke Mitchell is the epitome of an unselfish court general and is leading the league with an average of 11 assists per game. Former BBL guard Eddie Matthew is back from a calf injury and looking to return to his previous superb form. Recognised as one of the best shooters in the game, he has a lot more in his locker at both ends of the court. Matt Hughes in his second season with Teesside is now comfortably established as one of the best scorers in the league and had a season high 32pts in the previous game.
Manny Kabengele is a firm crowd favourite with an athletic ability producing incredible plays while veteran ‘bigs’ Oliver Hylands and Siman Stewart provide a sprinkle of experience with the ability to turn it on when required.
The balance of the squad is very good and on paper the favourites are Teesside Lions. The Lions beat their rivals in the same fixture last season by 20pts in a show of dominance in front of 720 spectators with 60 of those fans supporting Mohawks.
But this is a local derby with a little more at stake. Pride and local bragging rights are the prize with both teams looking to stamp their mark.
Mohawks will be rallying their fans to compete on and off the court, and while the result is yet to be decided, what is guaranteed is a great spectacle of sporting entertainment.
Tickets are still available but limited to the 1200 capacity at Eston Arena, and with more than 800 already gone, spectators are urged to order theirs quickly to avoid disappointment.
Tickets can be purchased at TeessideLions.com
Please note away fans will be seated in the Transporter Stand.