Basketball: Crunch time for Leicester Riders
As weekends go, there can be few in the history of the Leicester Riders that have had more potential significance than this one.
Riders travel to Surrey Heat tonight (7.30), before hosting Plymouth Raiders at John Sandford Sports Centre tomorrow (4.00), knowing that two victories will give them at least a four-point lead at the top of the BBL Championship table.
With only eight games left after this weekend, including Wednesday's huge title showdown with Newcastle, that would be a useful cushion in Riders' bid for a first-ever league crown.
But two victories will not be easy to come by against sides who themselves are locked in a four-way battle for the final two top-four places.
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And these are the only teams to have beaten Riders in the league this season.
"With Travis Holmes back, Surrey have a really nice balance to their team," said coach Rob Paternostro.
"It's important not to give them anything easy. They have plenty of talent so if you give them easy points they can put up a big number. Hopefully, we can deny them that and not allow them to get going.
"Plymouth have had so many changes to their line-up that it's not the team we played on either of our two previous meetings.
"Looking at their results, they've been a bit up and down through those changes, but everyone knows they have a lot of talent and they still have one of the best records in the league this season. Plus, they've got some good experienced guys who know what it's like at this time of year."
Forward Pavol Losonsky, who missed the midweek win at Sheffield, will be assessed before tip-off in both games to see what, if any, contribution he can give the team as he tries to shake off a back injury.
With so many games coming in such a short period of time, Paternostro has had to adjust the way his team works out between the matches.
"That's maybe something that goes unnoticed," he said. "You practice a certain way for the first six months of the season and, then all of sudden, you have to do things differently.
"We've played so many important games this season that it is nothing new to have two more. But pretty much every team you play has something important to play for as well."
Heat: C Holmes, F Holmes, Margai, Cricelli, Raftopoulos, Simek, Joseph, Seipt, Adams, T Holmes, Lewis-Parry, Hughes, Swaine.
Riders: Okoro, Couisnard, Stewart, Sullivan, Calvo, Hopkins, Taylor, Anderson, Washington, Lamble, Haggith, Gould, Dawes, Maynard, Losonsky, Rowe.
Raiders: Schreiber, Ojo, Hall, Barnett, O'Reilly, Lasker, Schneck, Williams, Burchell, Marriott.