The British Basketball League (BBL) season begins with the BBL Cup played in a group stage and knockout format between October and January. Regular season games take place between January and April, whilst the playoffs span across May. Additionally, the BBL Trophy is played in tandem with the regular season, starting in January and ending in March.
The 2019/20 BBL season met an abrupt end in March 2020 due to the global pandemic and a lack of funding. As the league was cancelled, there was no champion. This means the 2018/19 regular season champion, London Lions and 2018/19 playoffs champion, Leicester Riders go into the 2020/21 season as reigning champions. Worcester Wolves and Newcastle Eagles won the BBL Cup and BBL Trophy respectively before the 2019/20 season was cancelled.
Jack Hudson, new captain and point guard of the Manchester Giants and Tayo Ogedengbe, captain and small forward of the Surrey Scorchers, spoke to the Sports Gazette about the upcoming BBL season.
Hudson spoke of his transition to the BBL after arriving from the National Basketball League (NBL):
“The adjustment is going well, individually it was just about adjusting last year, getting up to speed obviously the game is a lot quicker, everyone’s a little bit longer, a little more athletic, can shoot the ball a little bit better, so that took obviously a little bit of adjusting.”
Sadly, Hudson’s progress was derailed by a setback, which ultimately affected the Giants results: “I think we competed in most games [when] I was there, obviously I got injured so I wasn’t involved in them. The majority of the games that [played in] we competed, we just fell short a little bit, but we felt that if the season carried on, we definitely would have picked up one or two wins, most definitely.”
Ogedengbe’s outlook on the team’s previous season focused more on the collective: “We had a strong start to the season, we had some fire power but obviously we played a few games and after the first few games teams do their homework and teams take a look at who you’ve got and take a look at how to adjust, so teams really [adjusted] the way they were playing against us.”
Ogedengbe also looked back on how the season ended for Surrey: “We began to struggle a little bit once teams scouted us and realised how we played and it was time to make an adjustment, certain players on the team needed to adjust or needed to advance their level of play and couldn’t do that.”
Setting the Tone
However, this is not to suggest that Hudson is not a team-oriented player, far from it. The point guard explains how his position in particular is integral to the Giants play this upcoming season.
“I think defensively I can try and set the tone for the team. As a point guard if I can slow the ball down for [the opponent] or make them run an offense that they [don’t particularly] want to run and change things for them, then that’s a good thing to be able to do. Then on the offensive end it’s just about getting people involved really and looking for [myself] when the time comes.”
Hudson’s defensive mindset is the same mindset that Ogedengbe would like the Scorchers to take into the new season. Surrey had a few games in which they conceded 100 points yet Ogedengbe looked positively at the situation, and how to address it.
“We gave up a few 100-point games, we also beat some teams by [scoring] 100 as well so it’s neither here nor there. But obviously we’ve got a different team this season and we’ve gone for some more defensive pieces which will help us change up the way we play defence in the [new season].”
Hudson and the Manchester Giants begin the season on November 8th against the Cheshire Phoenix at 17:30. Ogedengbe and the Surrey Scorchers have been awarded two forfeited wins from the Bristol Flyers. Four members of the Flyers have tested positive for COVID-19. Now, the Scorchers begin their season on November 13th against current cup winners Worcester Wolves, at 19:30. Be sure to catch both players as they look to lead their teams to success.