Saturday 7th October, Loughborough Riders, 6.00pm tip off
NBL Division One
Hemel Storm will look to bounce off their unbeaten start to the KitKing Trophy campaign as the league season begins away at Loughborough Riders this Saturday. Storm come into the fixture with increased confidence and hope after they advanced to the semi-finals of the Trophy tournament, after a tense 3-point win over MK Breakers in last weekend’s quarter-final. Storm were made to battle hard against the Division 2 franchise, with the game remaining in the balance right up until the last seconds with Andre Arrisol missing a shot to send the game into an extra period of overtime on the buzzer. However, the squad will be encouraged by the fact they managed to squeeze over the winning line, showing their crucial ability to come through high pressure situations once more; a habit they would like to continue throughout the season. Kiwi international Brayden Inger hit an important 20 points and Hakeem Sylla had 17, with 15 rebounds in a balanced team display demonstrating the sides endless scoring options and squad depth.
This weekend’s opposition, the Loughborough Riders, come off the back of a weekend’s rest after they failed to progress from their own KitKing group, coming up short against Birmingham Rockets and MK Breakers, despite overcoming Nottingham Hoods. The Riders will present the Trophy semi-finalists with a challenging start to the league campaign, after the re-signing of talented American guard Elijah Bailey. The NBL Division 1 Rebound All-Star averaged 20 points in his debut year in the league and has already impressed so far this year, with 35 points in his opening tie against the Birmingham Rockets. The Riders also retained the talent of Justin Hedley, sharp-shooter Joe Bielak and 6”7 forward CJ Hayden from last year, with league veteran Harrison Gamble returning for his final year in Loughborough.
Historically, the Riders have always caused the Storm problems, especially away as Storm have struggled to adapt to the Riders’ home arena. Last year, Storm overcame the Riders on three occasions and in the repeat league fixture in Loughborough it took an Aaryn Rai buzzer-beater and a 5 minute overtime period to knock the Riders down as Storm failed to make their impression on the tie and were bullied by their opponents. The new-look Storm roster will look to adapt better under the leadership of new coach Clark, unable to rely on the luxuries of Rai and Johnson to dig them out of a hole this year.
The squad will be grateful for any support and we hope you can make the trip up to Loughborough to push them on this Saturday. Come and join us at Loughborough University Netball & Badminton centre, tip-off 6pm! Tickets are available online on the Loughborough Riders website: Loughborough Riders v Hemel Storm- 7th October Tickets, Sat, Oct 7, 2023 at 6:00 PM | Eventbrite
Written by Callum Humphrey