Isaac Mourier: Faltering Leeds Force’s team spirit will be key to locking up Sharks

Action from October's meeting between Sheffield Sharks and Leeds Force. The rematch is on Force's 'home tur' on Friday. PIC: Chris Etchells

Leeds Force underestimated just how tough an opponent Manchester would prove to be last week – the Giants have a strong roster and showed a fantastic team spirit that we just couldn’t match.

Manchester played as a team, we played selfishly and fully deserved to lose – once again we beat ourselves.

Court action from October's clash between Sheffield Sharks and Leeds Force. PIC: Chris Etchells

On Monday, at practice, we had a long discussion as a group to openly discuss any individual issues people may be having, and we came together to talk honestly about where we’ve been going wrong and how each of us must improve to turn the situation around.

There was a lot more accountability amongst everyone – something that’s been sorely lacking at the practice venue in recent weeks.

In past weeks, we’ve had excuses for being heavily out-rebounded because of our lack of size, but with the recent addition of some big guys, there’s no longer any excuse – our rebounding effort against Manchester was simply not good enough.

That could be the sign of a deeper, underlying problem, and perhaps it’s down to people not pulling their weight and not being tough enough in a league that demands physicality no matter how big you are.

Sheffield Sharks' Tony Wroblicky 'feels the Force' during October's BBL Yorkshire derb. PIC: Chris Etchells

Last week’s loss is rock-bottom for us – some people put themselves above Manchester because of their struggles this year, and that contributed to them wiping the floor with us. You can’t hesitate at this level, and that defeat should help guys wake up and understand the sticky situation we’re in right now.

It’s imperative that we work together to escape this slump – any personal agendas have to be put aside because they never help in a team sport.

The first and only focus on anyone’s mind should be earning some wins for Leeds Force and our fans.

Next up it’s a rivalry clash against Sheffield Sharks at home on Friday (7:30pm). Sheffield are on a roll and they’re a fiercely tough opponent.

I’m sure they’ll have a big cross next to the name of Leeds Force in their upcoming schedule. It’s our job to prove people wrong, and you never know what can happen on any given night – particularly in a derby match-up.

Hopefully, Manchester was a big wake-up call for some of the new guys, and a lesson to the older and experienced players for being complacent. Friday’s game is about us, not Sheffield – it’s about being tougher and showing a stronger will to win.

There’s some great players on this team, but psychological issues are causing us to implode night after night.

The other teams in this league aren’t anything special – our mentality will determine our fate this season; we have some tough games coming up now so we have no choice but to sort things out and quickly.

In professional basketball, everyone needs to know their role, and they have to stick to it. Once people start believing they need to prove themselves and do more individually, that’s when issues arise.

We all have to make sacrifices and we’ll see if we’re capable of that soon.

There’s no better sporting spectacle than a Yorkshire derby; they’re always brimmed with lots of grit and passion. In my experience, this fixture always creates something special, so if we’re up to the challenge then it should be a great occasion. We really hope to see you come out in numbers for a huge game.

We’re desperate to put our problems aside, and what better a game to show everyone what we can do.

That’s it for this week’s column.

We really appreciate your support and we look forward to seeing you out in force on Friday night. #FeelTheForce.

Interview: Seb Gigner

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