Wes, Not Was
An Eagle, and a Hatter, on the Family Way.
In this edition of The Post Up from MVP, Newcastle Eagles guard Wesley Person Jr reveals the easy burden that comes with a famous name.
We chat to Sheffield Hatters forward Helen Naylor about playing through pregnancy and motherhood.
The relationship issues between the BBF and the home nations, we reveal, are threatening a funding blockade once again.
With Great Britain’s national teams back in action this month, we examine whether it is time for a definitive changing of the guard.
And we hear from a grassroots coach making a true impact.
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Wes content to play the Name Game
The name is there, stitched in print.
Always has been. Forever will be.
Wesley Person. The Junior in addition merely spotlights this storied basketballing lineage.
Dad spent over a decade in the NBA as a rugged shooting guard whose son arrived while he was prepping for his sophomore year with the Phoenix Suns, eventually carting his exquisite three-point shot and his young family to stops in Cleveland, Memphis, Portland, Atlanta, Miami and latterly Denver.
Wesley Sr. followed an illustrious pathway of his own, with his sibling Chuck – elder by some seven years - named Rookie of the Year while in Indiana as the starting point in a 14-season tour of duty.
The Rifleman, they called him. Shooting in the blood.
And, evidently, in the genes.
“It's an honour,” Newcastle Eagles’ imported gun declares. “To have my dad and uncle coming before me and reaching the level that they did, having great careers for themselves, I just want to follow in their footsteps.
“Basketball is my passion as well. So, every day I get to come out here and play is a blessing. And to honour them and play with their name on the back of my jersey, you know, it's an honour as well.”
They taught me everything I know, the 26-year-old from Alabama underlines. Shots in the backyard. Family gatherings that incorporated mini-tournaments. One-to-one tuition and scouting analysis.
“They both played different positions, but they have a high IQ for the game,” he reflects.
“My uncle coached in the NBA for many, many years after playing, and then my dad played. So they have a lot of knowledge that they can share with me. And I'm always picking their brains, just to see how I can get better as a player.”
Their adventures gave him the kind of front row seat to witness greatness that money can’t buy.
The best of the best, young Wes learnt from them all.
“I was a lot younger when my dad was playing,” he says. “So I remember bits and pieces. I think I was around ten or so when he was at his prime, so a good age to remember quite a bit.
“It was a good experience. I got to travel the world, be around different teams that my dad was on. And I got to meet some of the NBA players first-hand and watch them actually work out and things like that.”
There are a few souvenirs too. Priceless treasures that sons and nephews of respected names happen to acquire as they pass from arena to arena.
Person has one particularly cherished memento.
“My favourite player of all time was Allen Iverson,” he reveals.
“My first time ever watching him play, my dad obviously guarded him. And he scored, I think, 55 that night.”
Every cloud though…
“After the game, I was like, 'Dad, can I have his autograph?' So he took me to the locker room and I got to go in and meet him.
“And he gave me his game-worn shoes that he scored 55 in, and he signed them for me. I still have them to this day, in a case.”
Iverson was notoriously shy of practice habits. Better that young Person soaked up his approach from within the family circle, traits instilled that have accompanied him to Tyneside.
“I definitely carry some of that work ethic with me, just seeing those guys and how much intensity and how much hard work you have to put into the game to be great at it.
“So I just got to carry that throughout my career.”
One which, maddeningly, was interrupted last season, not by a virus but by a disease.
Keratoconus is an eye condition that reshapes the cornea and eventually causes blurring and sensitivity to light.
It is usually degenerative. Person had lived with it since birth.
“It progressively got worse,” he reveals. “And in order to stop it from damaging my eyes terminally, I had to have eye surgery, basically to stop the tearing in my eyes.
“It was a pretty difficult procedure. But I got it done. And now I have to just wear glass contacts to be able to see 20/20.”
Each eye was operated on separately. The recovery from each corrective procedure took six months.
“An intense few months,” he smiles. However it has brought quite the change.
”It's been good to be able to finally see for the first time in my career. And actually be able to shoot it and know where the ball is going.”
Despite the optimism of a full recovery, medicine provides few absolute guarantees.
In between check-ups, he put his finance degree from Troy University to good use.
This time last year, the numbers he was putting up were on a screen, via spreadsheets, as an accountant for a well-known car rental company.
Suiting up. Tie optional.
“It was just something to do,” he recounts. “I wasn't 100 per cent sure that I'd be able to come back and play, just because my disease had gotten so bad.
“So I just thought maybe it would be smart to maybe dive into something, just in case it wasn't there.
“But once I was fully recovered and solid, I was 100 per cent set on going back to play basketball.”
So here he finds himself, in Newcastle, where the expectations are never small and the failure to make it out of the group stages of the BBL Cup felt like some strange algorithmic miscalculation.
That would ignore the injury bug that smacked the Eagles around the face before an outbreak of Covid offered a supplementary kick in the teeth.
Despite losing their British Basketball League opener to Leicester Riders last weekend before a starter win against Surrey, we will be just fine, Person re-assures.
“It's been really competitive thus far. Of course we haven't played our best basketball yet and coming out short-handed, we haven't seen our team at full strength.
“Once we get everyone back and healthy, I think we'll take some more strides.
“I mean, we're definitely not down on ourselves at this point. With this franchise, they have a history of winning. So we'll get back to our winning ways. We have just got to, at this point, control what we can control.
“Once we get everyone healthy, there's a lot a lot to build on.”
Running up and down the floor in the way she had done for two decades and more seemed to get tougher almost overnight, Helen Naylor recounts.
“I just remember practices in the first three months being so hard, so difficult. How tired you feel, and just the sickness feeling. I just remember it like it was yesterday. It was really, really difficult.”
Playing basketball during her pregnancy, the Sheffield Hatters forward concedes, was a definitive choice.
Later perhaps than the norm. But with due care in preparing for a life-changing moment.
“I'd spoken to my midwives and healthcare professionals. And the general advice when you're pregnant is that as long as you're not starting something new, and it's something that your body's used to doing, you can carry on.
“So obviously, I’d played basketball for a long time. My body was used to that. And that is sort of okay to continue up to three or four months (out).”
Injuries at the Hatters and lack of depth that season probably teased her to hang on, playing in a WBBL Cup semi at the start of 2020.
By the time her daughter Kaliah arrived in the following June, basketball – and the world - was in lockdown due to Covid.
Not the ideal time to bring a baby into the world, most would suspect. Naylor’s support ecosystem was confined to Zoom, team nights online replacing trips to the pub, with single parenting a little more literal that she would have wished.
“My mum, she was probably the only person I saw” she admits.
“It was really isolating, I think, especially when you're pregnant. And you’re going through so many different emotions, your body's changing, everything's just changing around you. And I think to do that, in the middle of a pandemic is really, really difficult.”
Yet here she is on the other side, the mother of a bouncing 17-month-old toddler, re-transplanted to the Hatters from Manchester Mystics, where she built on her own baby steps back into sport eleven weeks after the birth.
The plan had been to ease herself back with Sheffield at whatever pace felt right.
The wrinkle was Hatters’ decision to take an unexpected season on hiatus due to financial constraints.
“We were going to have a team, then we weren't going to have one, and then obviously it ended up that we didn't have one,” the 34-year-old reflects.
The comeback process was pre-destined to be hard enough by itself. More research has been conducted in recent times into how elite female athletes can rebound from pregnancy and navigate the structural changes in the body that the hormonal and physical shifts bring on.
Ultimately, the impact is still evaluated case by case, as she discovered.
“It's really hard to explain. Everybody knows how your body changes when you have a baby - and physically and mentally as well.
“Obviously having a new-born, being a single mum, I was just so tired all the time. And so going back, I remember my first practice, and it was just like ‘oh my gosh, this is this is really difficult.’”
Her long-time friend, Jo Leedham, is negotiating a similar process with her own daughter at present. Injuries and aches which are very different to those she might have expected in the past.
The mammoth bomb dropped on the lifestyle of any parent is just one extra ingredient in the mix.
When Naylor resumed her hoops career with Manchester, it was never going to be a case of picking up at the high gear that she had previously engaged.
“So I just tried to help in any way that I could and obviously get better as the season went on and same in looking to play again at Sheffield this year.
“But it massively changes you. It changes your mindset and how you approach life. Basketball used to be one of my main focuses along with work. And obviously, I've got a very different main focus now.”
Kaliah sits in the stands most weekends now, an oblivious witness still to her mother at play. Basketball, Naylor acknowledges, provides an extended family for her offspring.
The Hatters family. Priceless.
“I really, really did miss it,” she says.
But the former Great Britain international remains a working parent, with a busy job in social work that often demands a late stay at her desk. Childcare, rather than making practice, takes priority where scheduling conflicts occur.
“I find ways to make it work,” she reveals. “My mum and my sister and other family members really, really help me out. My mum's always at the games, she brings Kaliah or looks after her for me.
“So it's just a case of really careful time management and planning and making sure that I've got all my babysitters set up.
“And sometimes I have to take Kaliah with me to practice and we've got people around that are really, really great, and will help out and look after her. I'm really lucky in that respect.”
In the club’s 60th season, Hatters have likewise been quickly revived on their re-birth.
Head coach Vanessa Ellis resumed her role. Others filed back through the door. Club matriarch Betty Codona, now 83, remains an invigorated presence behind the scenes, nominated this week for the Grassroots Award in The Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year Awards.
The hope is that the most successful club in UK hoops history will never again find itself forced to step away from the Women’s British Basketball League due to a lack of funds.
“It was really, really sad,” says Naylor, who has won eight domestic leagues titles and numerous medals since joining from her childhood club, Doncaster Panthers, in 2005.
“Not every season, but for the last couple of seasons, there's always been that sort of touch and go … have we got money, have we not got enough money?
“And then last-minute, we always have Betty worked tirelessly trying to find grants and businesses that will give us money. And you know, she's just constantly doing that.”
It would be nice if the WBBL, and the sport, grew to a point where that fear did not always lurk in the background, that she could contently dream of Kaliah one day forming part of Hatters’ next generation.
“It's just not doable every year to be in the same position,” Naylor adds. “And so I think, in terms of the club and the league, there needs to be something more sustainable.
“There's still lots of areas that the league can improve on … it's started to happen since the WBBL was developed.
“There is more social media and marketing and all that sort of stuff. But I still think there's a long way to go to make sure the league is sustainable.”
Listen to the full interview with Helen Naylor on the MVP Cast. Stream the podcast here, subscribe via your preferred provider or tell Alexa to ‘Play MVP Cast’.
You can also listen to our recent edition with Leicester Riders guard Kimbal Mackenzie where he tells us about hooping it as a kid in Canada, looking to make it in the NBA and dealing with the loss of that dream. He recounts his switch to Spain, his ambitions to make it big off the court – and getting paid in Bitcoin. Sponsored by TeamSportz.
Inspiration should be a healthy option
ICYMI, World Mental Health Day was on October 10.
A conversation in which sport has taken a central role in its amplification, with a greater recognition of both the stresses that come with being an elite athlete and also the positive way our leading lights can shine a light on the issue to the benefit of others in their sphere of interest.
So it might (or may not) surprise you that in the 40+ Tweets from the BBL on that date, and countless more from its clubs, the total dedicated to the subject was precisely … zero.
Hardly a fulfilment of the bold and impressive pledges made when the league quietly unveiled its player-centric BBL Supports and fan-centric BBL Inspires programmes earlier this year.
Followed by virtual silence.
A dropped ball, surely.
Especially in trying to deliver a narrative and messaging that says ‘this is a sport that is part of the community’ rather than merely a source of highlight videos and score graphics.
Behind the scenes, there is work going on, Kieron Achara, the driving force behind both trains of activity, assures us.
It has, the ex-Great Britain captain signals with a splash of frustration, just been toiling along in the slow lane.
The premise, he says, was simple.
“After I was done playing, I did my dissertation on athlete transition in sport. And what I quickly realised was the people who had planned and prepared had more successful transitions. It makes perfect sense. But a lot of people take it for granted.
“What does planning and preparation actually look like? I've been doing work in other sports, like football, and rugby. And I see some of the support they are getting from an organisational perspective. Not only that. From a governing body level too.
“So I took the idea to BBL and asked how we could set it off and everything else. So we've just ran with that.”
It was designed as a multi-faceted outreach programme: providing help to players but also to the country-at-large.
Signposting services that could dovetail with club schemes. Linking nicely into creating opportunities for players to become more visible - and ultimately more employable - within basketball … and in their lives after their professional days are over.
“Obviously, it's in its infancy,” Achara adds. “But we wanted to make sure before we started that all the players understood that this is happening. And I thought the best way to do this now with technology will do it remotely.
“So we set up these Zoom meetings with all the clubs, all who were really behind that and passionate about it.”
That introductory player meeting was finally held this Thursday to a promising reception. Thrown open to all, but with champions or reps to be nominated within each of the ten teams.
A way too, he adds, that player input into how the BBL is run and planned can be given proper form, all the more important with the significant investments expected in the months ahead.
Short of restarting the Players Association, an idea floated last term. But still, a channel for those on the court to voice what they would like to see supported and to share knowledge within the room.
“Which I think we really need,” Achara claims. “Because I wholeheartedly believe that when you're building a product, especially in order for the BBL to have success, the players, clubs, owners, they all have to be aligned. They all have to want to improve the league improve.
“By helping your players, making sure you support them, you're going to get a better product on the court.
“If you have happier players, more secure, more trusting players, they will perform better and want to stay in the BBL longer as well. So all the clubs completely got that.
“And the thing is, some clubs do a really good job of supporting their players. I just believe it should be more unified. It should be something that the whole league should be doing in conjunction.”
It would also feed neatly into the idea of cultivating Ambassadors from the pool of current and past players. Good for business. Good for the individuals concerned.
The nexus of BBL Inspires and Supports. Creating a legacy, brand awareness, personal development opportunities.
If it happens.
“It's a chance to have players still involved after they're done playing,” Achara underlines.
“I've been invited to do things like keynote speeches. And there's a lot of things that I say no to because I haven't been upskilled or trained or feel comfortable in that position.
“Again, from the BBL perspective, we should want to try to invest in those people.
“So if that opportunity is coming up, how can we upskill some players who want to be upscaled to be better public speakers, to handle the media better, or be able to do all these little things?
“That’s the vision.”
No ******* money
The F-word has been heard about the (virtual) corridors of British Basketball ahead of this week’s opening EuroBasket Women qualifier between GB and Greece in Manchester.
That funding promised by UK Sport? Still in their bank account rather than the BBF’s.
Basketball, it was announced almost eleven months ago, was to get £1.35 million as one of the sports designated for ‘Progression’ funding from a pot of Lottery money worth over £72m leading up to the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics.
Except, the cash-strapped federation has yet to see much of the spoils.
UK Sport appointed an external consultancy, Sport360, to appraise the current state of play within basketball earlier this year and provide recommendations for discussion based on interviewing those inside the lines.
On the to-do list beyond that was the recruitment of a performance director – a requirement of funding – plus some administrative capacity for BBF.
All still pending. Instead, only a £150,000 advance to cover GB men and women’s November and February windows has been provided by UK Sport.
So why the hold up?
As ever, the complex and divergent interests within the game seemingly continue to pull in different directions.
And those who must do due diligence before handing over taxpayer pounds are keeping tabs.
MVP understands that unless Basketball England, Scotland and Wales and the Federation can agree on what is being termed as a ‘Collaboration Plan’, the monies allocated will remain frozen.
“We need to be confident in the governance, the structure and how the stakeholders work together,” a UK Sport source confirmed.
“It is dependent on an action plan and collaboration plan being developed. We are hoping it will be agreed upon and signed up to by the home country associations and the BBF.”
Although various meetings are in the diary between now and the end of 2021 to break the impasse, signs are mixed over a possible resolution with Basketball Scotland declining to take up its seats on the BBF board for the past ten months.
Representatives of all three nations were due to pitch up for a Federation AGM in Cardiff on Friday, an opportune moment to move the conversation on. There is said to be willingness to do so.
“We are hoping it will all be resolved because we want to help basketball,” the UK Sport official added.
The question, as it has been for so long, is whether basketball can first help itself.
“What we need to do as a sport is define the roles and responsibilities,” current BBF chair Toni Minichiello underlines.
“There is only really a small overlap in the whole Venn diagram between what British Basketball and the home nations do, as regards funding from UK Sport and the home countries. That’s where we can work together.
“Progression funding only funds elite sport, the senior teams, not the pathway and the age-group teams. We all know we need to bring more money into the sport.
“But I believe the home countries are better positioned to lead on the age-group teams because that’s the development space they operate in, albeit with some overall oversight from BBF because they are Great Britain teams.”
In a statement, Basketball England said: ““Basketball England is eager to see the UK Sport review help provide a way forward and we are keen to continue working as part of the BBF board to make progress for the good of British basketball and our national teams.”
FIBA have adopted a hands-off approach to squaring this circle, a contrast from pre-2012 when heads were gently butted together to get the three home countries to pool their resources and sign up to a single Federation.
Ties not fully bound, a BBF that has always lacked the teeth to set a lead and remains beholden to its three principal stakeholders instead must hope for a consensus from above to energise the grand goal of qualifying for future Olympics and World Cups.
Not for the first time, the sport’s security may depend on it.
Changing of the guard
GB women’s squad was quietly unveiled on Saturday evening with a customary lack of fanfare ahead of this week’s two opening EuroBasket Women 2023 qualifiers against Greece and Estonia.
What was interesting to view is how many of the London 2012 generation were placed on duty.
In the team’s previous competitive game, a loss to Belarus in February that saw Buceta’s side miss out on EuroBasket 2021, only Temi Fagbenle and Chantelle Handy remained from the fabled Olympic squad.
But now that has increased to four.
Rachael Vanderwal has rebounded from a year out with a knee injury in the German BBL despite early season struggles for Gisa Lions but long stated her keenness to return.
In a recent interview with the BBF website, London Lions big Azania Stewart signalled likewise, her eagerness to resume her international career after three years away, a spell in which she was fully retired until a side gig on the national team’s staff rekindled her desire to play.
The other figure that had been looming large is Jo Leedham, who has been flummoxed by injury since joining London in the summer as she balances basketball with picking up her playing career following the birth of her daughter earlier this year.
The assumption was that Leedham – with her legacy as one of this country’s greatest players long secure – was content in closing the door to GB following the ultimately doomed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
Buceta and others have made it known they would like her to continue, but she is absent here and may be for good.
It is understood London Lions’ Kennedy Leonard was not invited to the team camp as her lingering eligibility case with FIBA rumbles on.
Yet Lions quota has grown with Holly Winterburn finally returning to the fold and Shanice Beckford-Norton gaining a deserved call-up to the 14 along side the returning Chantel Charles.
“We begin this new campaign with a lot of enthusiasm and motivation to get our goal – to go back to EuroBasket,” said Buceta.
“This is why we had our first camp in August and now we are here together to prepare the team for these two games, Greece and Estonia, which are very important.
“They are the first two games of this group and we are ready for that.”
Squad: Chantel Charles, Hannah Robb, Georgia Gayle, Renee Busch, Shequila Joseph, Cheridene Green, Eilidh Simpson, Rachael Vanderwal, Azania Stewart, Temi Fagbenle, Chantelle Handy, Karlie Samuelson, Shanice Beckford-Norton, Holly Winterburn
With rejuvenation required, and the likes of Winterburn ready to inherit responsibility - and a huge workload at club level already on Leedham and Stewart (who have both missed games) - some will argue the bold long-term play is to trust in youth, even at a cost in the shorter while.
Meanwhile Gareth Murray has told Great Britain men’s head coach Nate Reinking that he’s not ready to call time on his international career.
The Glasgow Rocks player-coach, who has won over 50 caps, is hoping for a place in the squad for this month’s opening World Cup qualifiers against Greece and Turkey.
And although the Arbroath-born forward recently turned 37 and has cut back on his minutes on the court, he has signalled there’s plenty he can still offer for GB despite opting out of two games last season due to club duties.
Murray said: “If they select me, I'm there. If they don't, I'm not ready to retire yet. I'm going to keep playing. If I can keep playing well, if I'm in good enough shape, good enough to make the 12, then I'm happy to be there. It's not something I'm ready to give up on.”
No Strain, just ease, as Lady Rocks push forward
As a teenage girl, Nadele Strain craved the kind of safe space where she could express herself freely, without fear of harsh or spirit-sapping judgement. The basketball court offered an outlet for her hopes and dreams, and a vehicle that would allow her to represent Scotland and test herself on foreign shores.
Now, the 32-year-old is the one constructing a sanctuary from the world outside for the subsequent generation as the head coach of the Cumbernauld-based Lady Rocks. Formed in 2006 and with the loosest of associations with the professional men’s side of the same name, it is a rarity: a club solely for the lassies.
Where there is, she details, a push to develop a sisterhood that scores big on and off the court.
“We just have strong people who are not just coming in and playing and coaching - and then leaving at the end of the day,” Strain tells MVP.
“Everybody is invested in the kids here. There's not one person that wouldn't go the extra mile for a child or for another member of the club.
“Because there's so many different levels to the women's game and there’s so many ways to keep those kids engaged in sport. We have young girls who are maybe between 8-12 years old thinking, ‘right. I really enjoy playing with my friends.’
“But actually, some want to play more competitively – and there's that option. But if you just want to play with your friends, that’s ok too. And I think that's really important.”
Especially to address the attrition rate that sees girls drop completely out of sport in much greater numbers before reaching adulthood than boys. The increased visibility of women’s sport on TV – and role models like Laura Muir and Jessica Ennis-Hill - has helped the cause.
But it is even more influential, Strain believes, to be able to witness the pathways up close at the club’s base at St. Maurice’s High School, a rock’s throw outside Glasgow, and the various outdoor courts which kept its heart beating during the lockouts of lockdown.
“We have so many strong female role models within our club,” she outlines. “We’ve got Erin McGarrachan, who went away to the States to play in college and then played for Great Britain but who started off at St. Maurice’s. We have Rona Lightbody who moved over to Spain and played semi-pro but has come back.
“But it’s not just players. You have table officials, you've got referees, you've got people showing being involved can be about more than just playing. There is that real family ethos, right down to the supporters and the volunteers come in and help set up the hall.”
Perhaps it helps that Strain, who featured for Scotland at European Championships, was a role player in her playing pomp rather than the leader of the pack. “I was never a big scorer,” she outlines. It meant finding alternate ways to contribute individually to the cause.
She preaches that now. “It doesn't even matter if you've not stepped on the floor. All the training, everything that you do on the bench, that’s all so important. That's something that I've taken as a player and as a coach now - that the first rule of thumb is nobody is bigger than the team.”
Good habits are passed down, eldest to youngest. Walk through the doors and leave your troubles behind.
Strain can delve back two decades to imagine with hindsight what kind of haven her teen self would have valued.
When she was trying to figure how, or even if, she could divulge the realisation that she was gay with her running mates on her Under-16 team.
“I had no idea how people were going to react,” she reflects. “It was a massive step for me. But the weight that was lifted off my shoulders by coming out to them was immense.”
Fans of the Women’s NBA can admire LGBT superstars at every turn. It is a league that, after a hesitant start, was among the first to embrace Pride initiatives and nurture the kind of inclusivity Strain now cultivates.
Rooted there, and here, is understanding the enhanced impact of offering role models on the doorstep.
“I never had that,” she acknowledges. “If I had been growing up and there was a coach or player that was out, and everybody knew they were gay, that would have totally changed my whole experience.
“Just because it's that safe space. So it's so important that I am open and we're having these discussions.
“Obviously, I’ve had a handful of incidents that have maybe have been discriminatory. But that's been just a few individuals set amongst everything else.
“So I think it's positive that kids that are maybe coming through who don't know their sexuality, they could see me and say: ‘ok, well, she's done, okay and she’s gay.’ And likewise, if there was a gay man or a trans woman or a trans man.”
Set in stone at the Lady Rocks is a mission to reach outward to all corners of the community. To ensure that no-one wanting to come aboard has to jump through hoops – even if they want to shoot a ball through one.
“We want to grow the grassroots and build a foundation from the ground up,” Strain adds. “I have this vision where you can come in here and be whoever you want to be as a girl – to be competitive or have fun or whatever. We want to build on what we’ve achieved but I think what we’ve got now is fantastic.”
A version of this piece originally appeared in The Daily Mail’s Grassroots Sport pull-out.
Sunday’s mega duel BBL Cup clash between London and Leicester is one of the first truly indicative games of the still-young domestic season. If anything, the balance of Lions team on domestic duty is superlative to the one they have fielded on their unbeaten early run in the FIBA Europe Cup. A good benchmark for the Riders.
Offensively, both are putting up around 90 points per game in the competition with the only significant differential in the superior way Leicester take care of the ball, a contributing factor in their 93-76 win in the prior meeting.
Lions, ever-improving, should start favourites. But look at around -4.5 on the hosts or under 170 points as defences fall into place.
In the league, Glasgow Rocks are available at 5/2 to win at Manchester Giants. The Scots have already beaten their rivals twice in the Cup. Generous odds indeed.
Photos: Mansoor Ahmed, Eagles/Dave Moore, Rocks, Hatters