Raptors ready for play-off bid

Raptors skipper Aitor Estrada

Raptors skipper Aitor Estrada

First published in Sport

FRESH from sealing the English Basketball League Division Three North title Rossendale Raptors turn their attention to play-off glory this weekend.

The Raptors play what they hope will be the first of three matches in the end-of-season tournament when they welcome Hackney White Heat to the Haslingden Sports Centre on Saturday (5.15pm).

Should the Raptors progress they would take on the winners of Sunday’s clash between London Greenhouse Pioneers and Northants Thunder in the semi-finals over the weekend of March 29-30.

The play-offs feature the top four teams from Division Three North and Division Three South.

The Raptors will be favourites to overcome White Heat after they ended the season as champions.

But Raptors coach Ken Masser is not surprised by his side’s achievements this season.

He said: “We’ve got a lot of strength in depth – and that’s been the key ingredient during the second half of the season.

“Even though we’ve had players missing every game, we’ve still been able to perform because of that talent base.”

Not that the Raptors, who will be changing their name to Lancashire Spinners for next season, will be underestimating Hackney.

The London-based outfit looked set to miss out on the play-offs but they sneaked into fourth place in Division Three South by winning their final two regular season matches away to Cardiff Met Archers and at home to London Phoenicians.

The play-off final takes place at Leeds Metropolitan University on Saturday, April 12.

This weekend’s other quarter-final fixtures see Birmingham Mets host Solent Kestrels and London Lituanica entertain Sefton Stars on Sunday.

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