TAYO SEEKING SCORCHING START

After leading Surrey Scorchers to the BBL Playoffs last season, Tayo Ogedengbe wants a repeat.

He’ll just have to achieve that goal with a different group of players.

It’s nothing new for the Scorchers’ captain, he’s the only player still with the team from their first game in 2015.

“I am the lone survivor!” said Ogedengbe. “I’ve been here since the inception of the Surrey Scorchers and it’s been a work-in-progress situation.

“The first year was just about getting us off the ground and then last season was really good as we established ourselves in the league and got through to the play-offs.”

After the disappointment of finishing bottom of the table in 2015-16, last year was an amazing turnaround for the Scorchers as they got into the habit of winning close games.

Whether it was the comeback to beat the Glasgow Rocks, last second winners over London Lions and Leeds Force, or downing the Newcastle Eagles in overtime, Scorchers’ fans had plenty to be excited about.

“We had a lot of games where we came up with crazy shots at the end,” said Ogedengbe.

“Those games made me so happy because I’ve been through the worst times and now we’re coming out the end of it where we are getting wins, where before we would have lost.

“Working hard during the game and then getting that last-second win is an amazing feeling.”

One moment though stands out for both the Scorchers’ fans and Ogedengbe himself, and it came during a play-off game on the BBC when Gabe McCray’s dramatic buzzer-beater earned Surrey a rare tie.

“When Gabe hit that half-court shot against Leicester,” he said, “I think that was a real defining moment in our season, even though we went on to lose the second leg.

“It was defining because it really showed what we were capable of and if we could have brought things together a little earlier, we could have been more successful.”

There’s one player that Ogedengbe will miss more than any other from that team — Quincy Taylor.

“He was one of the best point-guards I’ve ever played with,” explained the Scorchers’ captain.

“A great play-maker, he read the floor very well and he was very easy to play with.

“As a wing player, it’s good to have a point-guard that you can trust and I always had full trust in him.”

Ogedengbe added, “Now we’ve got Tony Hicks and Tony’s got a good vibe about him.

“He’s calm, cool and collected and I try to link up with the point guards as much as I can, as they are the leader on the court.”

While the Scorchers didn’t have a great time at Sunday’s Betway All-Stars, the captain is optimistic about the new squad which begins their 2017-18 BBL campaign on the road at Sheffield Sharks on Friday and then visiting London Lions on Sunday.

“My first thoughts about this team are very promising,” he said. “If we work hard then I don’t see why we can’t be successful.

“I’ve played against Alex [Owumi] and guarded him on many occasions, so know what I am going to get from him.

“I know how he treats people on the court and people he’s played against because I have been there.

“Gerald [Robinson] is the same. He knows the league very well, played at my old team in France and comes highly recommended, so I know what we’re getting.”

He added, “Even though we lost people I had a bond with, we have gained people I feel it will be easy to bond with.”

And when it comes to his hopes for this season, Ogedengbe doesn’t want to settle for eighth again.

“We’re definitely looking at a top five finish,” he said, adding, “And hopefully one final and a piece of silverware as a minimum.

“I like to set expectations high as that’s how I live my life and hopefully that is what we can get to.”

Photo: Graham Hodges

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