Posted: Wed, 07 Oct 2015 09:52
The WBBL is excitedly preparing for the launch of its second season at what promises to be a thrilling opening weekend of women's ball.
Every WBBL club will take to the floor at Loughborough University across Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 October, in what promises to be a fantastic and must-see event for fans.
There will be five fabulous games to watch, with three match-ups taking place on the first day and two more clashes on the second.
Tipping off the action will be Nottingham Wildcats, who came so close to landing silverware last season after finishing second in the league and just missing out in the WBBL Trophy and Play-Off Final. They will tussle with Manchester Mystics, who always have exciting young talent to harness.
Next on the menu are two aspiring young coaches in Steve Vear and Chris Bunten, who will take their Brixton Topcats and Team Northumbria sides up against each other.
Northumbria will be looking to build on their impressive third place finish last season, having re-signed the core of the team including Great Britain U20 player Sarah Thomson, the rock solid Rachael Bland and highly productive Fiona O'Dwyer.
Meanwhile Brixton will be hoping they can emerge as a dark horse this season and make a statement by creating something of an opening day upset.
The action will be wrapped up on day one with a mouth-watering clash between the hometown Riders and Barking Abbey Crusaders.
Riders will capture a significant chunk of attention as the host club, since they will also be participating in back-to-back outings. They have been the big movers in the summer transfer window, bolstering their ranks of GB players which now includes the likes of Erin Mc Garrachan, Georgia Jones, Robyn Lewis and Mollie Campbell.
Crusaders are expected to once again call upon the services of Molten WBBL Young Player of the Year, Savannah Wilkinson – as well as their veteran European duo Diana Naydenova-Goryanova and Tereza Brantlova. And with the experienced Mark Clark at the helm, they are always a well organised and difficult team to play against.
While the curtain will fall on the first day of the WBBL season, fans are encouraged to stick around and check out an exciting BBL game between the hometown Riders and Manchester Giants as rookie coach Yorick Williams returns to his former club (tickets sold separately – see www.bbl.org.uk for details).
Sunday is also expected to captivate, with Great Britain legend Stef Collins taking Cardiff Met Archers into battle against last season's all-conquering Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters. They were the only two teams to slide something into the trophy cabinet last season.
Archers landed the Basketball England National Cup, while Hatters cleaned the board with WBBL prizes as they won the WBBL Championship, WBBL Trophy and WBBL Play-Off Final – as well as taking the Betty Codona Classic title for good measure. Once again they could be the team to beat this season, since highly respected head coach Vanessa Ellis will ensure their appetite for success has not been diminished after such a sparkling first campaign.
Finally, Riders will take back to the floor for their second game of the weekend and looking to avoid a surprise as Sevenoaks Suns take their season bow, looking to take a step up with many of their young stars having gained valuable experience last season.
The full WBBL opening weekend schedule is as follows:
Saturday 17 October
Manchester Mystics v Nottingham Wildcats 12.00pm
Brixton Topcats v Team Northumbria 2.15pm
Barking Abbey Crusaders v Leicester Riders 4.30pm
Sunday 18 October
Cardiff Met Archers v Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters 3.15pm
Leicester Riders v Sevenoaks Suns 5.30pm
To see the very best of the UK's women ballers in action at just £5 per day for adults and £2.50 for children.