Samuel Toluwase: Driving Leeds Force fuels Gold Coast ambition

We celebrated too early and became too emotional, too quickly '“ that was the main reason for Leeds Force's downfall at Cheshire Phoenix on Sunday.

Samuel Toluwase in action for Leeds Force against Cheshire Phoenix (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)
Samuel Toluwase in action for Leeds Force against Cheshire Phoenix (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

The game’s not over until the clock says zero at the end of the fourth quarter.

We got carried away with ourselves leading in the fourth quarter and let things get past us in a 100-94 defeat, so we need to be more professional if we want to defeat teams of Cheshire’s calibre.

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Staying composed and poised in those type of late-game situations is key. We’ve got to be mature and remain disciplined – we have a few inexperienced professionals at the minute so we all have to learn to manage the game together as a unit for the full 40 minutes.

Tre Bennett scored 26 points against Cheshire Phoenix (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

Every game’s a battle, and if you can’t fight then you’re going to get knocked out every round.

Basketball’s a game of runs, we had the momentum for most of the game, but I tried to stay calm and not over-excite myself.

Experienced professionals from other teams that we play against thrive on those last-minute, close-quarter battles and take advantage of our inexperience at handling big leads. That must change if we want to be a consistent threat in the BBL.

Everyone respects everyone at Leeds Force, there were a couple of new players making their debuts, introducing themselves and thanking us for Sunday’s game and for not overlooking them late in the game just because they were new.

Leeds Force's Allie Fullah (Picture: Alex Daniels)

That’s the kind of respect and humility we all need to show on this team, because if there’s no respect for your fellow team-mates then we’re not going to get very far.

Sunday’s game is long gone now, it’s not in my mind anymore – what’s done is done so there’s no point looking back with regret and frustration.

We need to focus on the big picture, so it’s back to the drawing board to focus on what needs improving ahead of Friday’s third and final contest against Cheshire Phoenix at Carnegie Sports Arena (7:30PM).

As the captain, I have to let the guys know they have to come out and be ready to play no matter where we are or who we’re playing against – that’s what I’ve been doing since I joined Leeds Force and that’s what I’ll continue to do.

Tre Bennett scored 26 points against Cheshire Phoenix (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

I want players to remember this defeat to Cheshire when the seconds are ticking away and Leeds Force are protecting a lead in the future because we have to learn from our mistakes.

We’re used to losing right now, we know how to lose – a lot of teams don’t know how to lose – it’s dependent on who wants to show up and how hard they’re willing to work for us to build that winning culture on this team.

Looking ahead to next Spring’s Commonwealth Games in Australia, I’ve been talking to coaches of the Nigerian national team about whether there’s an opportunity to attend the team’s training camp before the Gold Coast Games, as I definitely want to be a part of it because playing for your country is always a huge thrill.

I’ve experienced so much playing on the international stage against the world’s best players and coaches – when it comes to applying that to Leeds I try to offer my experiences and knowledge to the young guys as much as possible.

Leeds Force's Allie Fullah (Picture: Alex Daniels)

If I can channel how hard I’ve played and implement the type of skillset you need to play internationally into Leeds Force then we can make it to the top.

That’s it for this week’s column, thanks for supporting us and hopefully we can make amends for last week’s loss by beating Cheshire in our house on Friday.


Interview: Seb Gigner