Sheffield Sharks could hand a debut to new signing Brandon Hogg when they host Yorkshire rivals Leeds Force today at the English Institute of Sport (7.30).
Hogg arrives with experience of playing professionally in Germany and Albania, having honed his game at the University of Southern Indiana.
With the ability to play in both guard positions, he is expected to fill the void left by Mike Cook.
Hogg will come into a winning team, as Sharks have won six games in a row in all competitions, and face a Force side that have lost each of their last three.
Sharks forward Antone Robinson: “I think the chemistry/bond on our team is getting stronger and we’re playing together, that’s the key to this run.
“Leeds are a tough, blue nose team, every game is a challenge.”
Sheffield – for whom Patrick Horstmann has returned to training following injury and could feature – beat Leeds 85-71 the last time the two sides met last month at the Carnegie Sports Arena.
Matt Newby, Force’s director of professional basketball, orchestrated a surprise derby win for Leeds on their visit to the EIS in their rookie season last term, but acknowledges repeating the feat will be more difficult this time around.
“They’re better than they were last year,” said Newby.
“They’ve done a helluva job recruiting this year; their point guard Jerrold Brooks has been an excellent signing.
“And for us the task at hand is to manage their assets.
“It’s always a game that creates a great atmosphere and hopefully we get the same again on Saturday night.”
Newby has shuffled his pack since their last game two weeks ago, a road loss to their rivals for a place in the top eight, the Plymouth University Riders. Darrel Bethune and Dwayne Camille have been released by mutual consent, and the club was on the verge yesterday of bringing in Canadian guard Marek Klassen, who has been playing in the Romanian league earlier this year.
“We’re hopeful he can have an impact on our back court,” said Newby, of a player he has been working around the clock to bring in.
Sharks are in action again on Sunday when they travel to Manchester Giants. Tip-off at the Lucozade Soccerdome is 6pm.