After having a bit of a break from travelling to see basketball (not entirely through choice more as a result of other demands on my time), today I went to my first road game of 2020.
The London Lions were playing against the Sheffield Sharks at Ponds Forge. Sheffield is a relatively easy drive up from London so we decided to drive up the night before the game which allowed us to go walking in the Peak District before the game.
Ponds Forge has a large car park attached and is easily accessed if you come up by train (as a couple of our group did). We didn’t actually use the venue car park as we had parked in town to go for lunch and decided to walk the 15 mins venue rather than move the car.
The venue is nutlike function but the Sheffield Sharks logo is painted on the door that leads to the court. Once through the door there is a stall for ticket sales, a merchandise stall and some volunteers scanning tickets.
At Sheffield the seats are all on one side of the court. I think this layout works in smaller venues as trying to spread the crowd out on different sides of the court can affect the atmosphere as it is difficult for the crowd to create the same level of noise.
The seats at Ponds Forge all have backs, always a plus. They are hard plastic so not the most comfortable but that’s typical in BBL venues.
At every time out and quarter break the Sharks had some entertainment lined up. This appeared to be children from a local dance troupe. As we were siting behind the Lions bench my view was usually blocked by basketball players but the crowd seemed to enjoy it.
I would have preferred a bit less music during the game but I know not everyone agrees with me on that.
Overall I liked this venue and found it easy to get to (and get home from).
For the 2019/20 season the British Basketball League (BBL) are broadcasting games live on YouTube. For the last few seasons they were using LiveBasketball so I was interested to see if the service improved with YouTube.
I decided that I would watch a London Lions game on YouTube as I am a Lions fan. Unfortunately my first attempt at this did not work as there were technical issues which prevented live streaming on the day I had planned to watch.
The first, and most obvious, difference is that the YouTube service is free whereas fans had to pay for the previous service. Now I happily pay for NBA League Pass every year so I am not against paying for a service to watch BBL games. However, the subscription BBL service never really felt worth it as you could only watch games live, there were frequent technical issues and often the commentators didn’t even know the players names.
With a free service I won’t find technical issues or low quality commentary as annoying.
Today was my first BBL YouTube game and I was pleasantly surprised. The stream was constant all game, the commentary was good and the on screen graphics were a big improvement on the previous service. Throughout the game I could see the score, after each basket they showed the name of the player who scored and their stats, I could monitor the foul count each quarter and at half time I was shown game stats.
I really appreciated that as it’s exactly the kind of data I expect to see in the venue and the fact that it was provided on a free stream of the game made it even better.
Overall I think the move to YouTube was a good idea and I hope the BBL can keep this up.
The inaugural British All Stars Basketball event was held this weekend at the O2. The event saw the top eight teams in the British Basketball League (BBL) compete for a cash prize.
In order to fit in a number of games, some changes were made to standard basketball rules. This was somewhat confusing for fans, players, coaches and refs but resulted in fewer gaffes than anticipated. Those new to the game my have been a little confused
but probably less so than the rest of us.
There will, I’m sure, be much debate about the format of the games and the rule changes.
Over 5 hours we had 13 games in an elimination style format – two loses put you out of the competition. To be honest this made the day quite long, I think we could have moved to a ‘one loss and gone’ system without losing any of the excitement.
Each game was 12 minutes long with a rolling clock, free throws were not awarded for fouls (instead one point and possession was awarded to the other team) and each team was only allowed one 30 second time out per game.
The more controversial changes were the introduction of a 5 point line and a 2 minute power play that had to be completed within the first 10 minutes of the match. I have to say that while both added some extra excitement to the day the team that won overall didn’t use their power play in one game (due to not pressing the button in time) and were not very successful at 5 point shots. I don’t think FIBA or the NBA will be looking to bring these rule changes in anytime soon.
I admit I was sceptical of the rules, and the event, beforehand but I was completely caught up in the excitement on the day. Was it ‘real’ basketball? Not exactly but it was fun and it allowed me to see my team in action and check out the competition as many teams have made a number of roster changes this off season.
Some colleagues who had never been to a basketball game are now planning to attend a BBL game in the near future. I’m sure they weren’t the only people in a similar position in the building and so if this raises awareness of the BBL and had a positive impact on attendances I think we can count this as a success.
Team – Leeds Force
Getting to Leeds
We drove up to Leeds from London. It’s about a 4 hour drive not including stops or any delays on the motorway.
You can also travel by train and can easily return to London the same day. A quick look at National Rail suggests you could get back to most BBL destinations by train the same day though for a few teams you would need to factor in an overnight stay.
I haven’t spent much time in Leeds but there are a range of tourist attractions to keep you entertained if you want to make a weekend out of your trip.
Highlights include an Abbey, a cathedral and a Minster as well as several museums.
Getting to venue –
As we drove we were able to go straight there and make use of the free parking.
If you arrive by train it’s quite a walk so I would suggest a taxi (20 mins) or investigating the local buses.
The venue is a University campus so is close to a lot of local bars and restaurants.
The venue –
This is a sports hall in a University, it’s definitely one of the smaller BBL venues. The seats have backs and are reasonably comfortable.
They don’t have any entertainment on offer other than the music through the speakers that are oddly places at the bottom of the seating area.
Food in venue
Hot dogs, sweets and drinks – soft drinks and beer.
Surrey Sports Park is easily accessible by car and they have plenty of free car parking available. The car park empties fairly quickly at the end of the game so you don’t have to worry about hanging around for a while.
There is also a nearby train station (Guilford) but I think access from the train station to the sports park can be a little time consuming.
Bleacher style seating is used at Surrey Sports Park (no back to the seats). This is quite common in BBL venues but not ideal if you have any back problems.
Food and Drink
There is a Starbucks and a bar in the venue. Within the basketball hall itself they sell hotdogs, soft drinks and Krispy Kremes.
November 28 2015 – Surrey Sports Park
Tonight the London Lions travelled to their nearest rivals the Surrey Scorchers. Going in to the game Scorchers were 9th in the league, Lions were 5th.
The game did not get off to a great start with both teams committing turnovers. Lions finally broke the 0-0 deadlock.
For most of this game the Lions looked comfortable, and were in the lead. Scorchers had some brilliant plays, including some tricky passes, but frustration seemed to be getting the better of them. Scorchers were called for two unsportsmanlike fouls and one technical, in three separate incidents. It’s rare for one team to get three such fouls in one game. They will need to work on keeping their frustration in check as they can ill afford to give away free throws.
The Lions also had an issue with fouls this evening, though only common fouls. Allie Fullah fouled out in the fourth.
The Lions won every quarter, although Surrey did keep trying right up until the final possession.
The win tonight takes the Lions into the top 4 of the BBL league.