Sheffield Sharks hope to close the gap on the teams above them with a tough weekend on the road.
Atiba Lyons side, who are sixth in the British Basketball League, visit second placed Worcester Wolves on Friday night before crossing the Pennines on Sunday afternoon to take on Cheshire Phoenix.
After three home defeats in a row the Sharks battled their way to victory last Sunday at Manchester Giants for a much-needed win.
Sheffield’s only match against Worcester ended in a 78-76 defeat at the EIS in November and forward Olu Babalola says the influence of Wolves coach Paul James is crucial to the way they play: “Worcester are always a tough game and it starts from their head coach PJ.
“I have always respected him as a coach since I knew him at Guildford.
“He knows how to get the best out of his players and has good sets based on what kind of players he has, so it’s always a tough game.”
James said despite Sharks recent struggles they’ll present a stern test for his title-chasing team. He said: “They are always going to be a very tough team. Their performances have been a bit up and down this season but certainly they have shown that when they get it right they are a force for anyone to deal with.
“They have got continuity when you look at Mike Tuck, Olu Babalola, Colin Sing and Zach Gachette, those guys have been there for a long while so they have that continuity and they can then put players in and around them, which makes them very tough to play,”
On Sunday the Sharks will be hoping to gain revenge for a 95-82 handed out by Cheshire on January 9 at the EIS.
Babalola said: “We played Cheshire quite recently and played them tight right until the fourth quarter.
“There seems to be a rivalry building there so I’m pretty sure they’ll be fired up to play us. I know for sure we will be.
“We have to play harder than them, limit them to one shot at a time by winning the rebounding war, and playing together.”