By Tom Lamming (Student Press Officer)
Bradford Dragons return to league action on Saturday afternoon against Barking Abbey. The Dragons will take on Coach James Vear’s young 4-12 Barking team. The talented youngsters will look to end a run of two-straight losses when they host Dragons.
The Dragons go in pursuit of three-consecutive league wins for the second time this season. A victory would take the team within two points of the three teams directly above them. With the Derby Trailblazers and the Loughborough Riders hosting the top two ranked teams, in the Solent Kestrels and Hemel Storm respectively. Saturday’s game presents Dragons with a timely opportunity to cut the gap and firmly cement their position as the eighth seed.
Chris Mellor has spoken on the necessity for his team to be on their game right from tip-off.
“Barking have shown with recent narrow losses to top six teams that they’re a match for anyone especially on their floor, so our intensity and execution needs to be decent Saturday.”
Andreas Lycoudis is under no illusions of the challenge Barking will pose to his team on Saturday afternoon (4.00pm tip-off).
“We know this will be a tough game as is every game in this league, but even with some injuries, we know we have what it takes to take a win down South. Barking have picked up a few good wins and we haven’t been so lucky down there in recent years.”
Speaking on the Dragons recent form, Lycoudis added: " We’ve found our identity and have only lost once in our last six games. We’re confident this weekend that we can keep up this run of good form."
Looking to keep the feel-good factor around the club after the academy’s exploits in the Adidas Next Generation Tournament in Lithuania last week, Barking Abbey will hope for a quick return to winning ways in NBL Division One action on Saturday afternoon.
Barking come into the game 11th in the league with a 4-12 record on the season. Despite the two recent home losses against the Reading Rockets (77-72) and the Trailblazers (89-79), the team had won three of their last four games beforehand.
All three victories came against the three teams sitting below them in the standings. Pivotal results in the battle to avoid relegation, all three games came in a potentially season-defining January.
Barking, the league’s lowest-scoring offense will take on the division’s fourth tightest defensive outfit when the two teams take to the floor at the Barking Abbey Leisure Centre this weekend.
Last Time We Met – Saturday, November 9, 2019
Bradford Dragons 93-69 Barking Abbey
Matchday 6 proved to be a season-changing game for the Dragons. Both teams came into the November clash with a 1-5 record, but the arrival of Barking proved to be a spark for Coach Mellor’s team as they turned in their best performance of the young season.
A tenacious defensive performance was the catalyst for a fully deserved blowout victory. Leading for all but the opening minute of the game, Dragons size inside proved too much for Barking to handle, outscoring the visitors 54-28 in points in the paint.
Dragons got double-figure scoring from five players as Rihards Šulcs top-scored with 17 points. 18-year-old Barking big Theo Hughes led all scorers with an impressive 26 points and 11 rebounds performance.
A member of the Great Britain U18 team that finished 8th at the 2019 FIBA European Championships in Greece, Eze is Barking’s leading points scorer this season. The 18-year-old is averaging 14.4 points per game on 50.6% shooting from the field.
Eze is shooting 34.5% from three-point range, making 1.4 of his 3.9 attempted threes per game. In his last outing, the January 25th clash against relegation rivals Liverpool, the young wing led his team to a crucial win with 22 points and 8 rebounds.
Barking Abbey Last Five
Tuesday, January 28 – Barking Abbey 72-77 Reading Rockets
Sunday, January 26 – Barking Abbey 79-89 Derby Trailblazers
Saturday, January 25 – Barking Abbey 77-71 Liverpool
Sunday, January 12 – Barking Abbey 73-81 Worthing Thunder
Saturday, January 11 – Westminster Warriors 65-75 Barking Abbey
Photographs © Alex Daniel Photography