Jay Williams believes Sunday’s BBL Trophy final between the league’s two London teams will carry the passion of a derby.

The former Rocks guard will bid to lead London City Royals to silverware when they take on quadruple-chasing London Lions at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena.

And even with so many close ties between both teams, Williams senses the stakes are high.

“The whole rivalry thing is going to be there,” the Royals coach said. “There’s a rivalry with every team but because it’s two London teams, it’s going to be magnified.

“There is a battle of friendships but that’s tougher than a rivalry probably because that person will have bragging rights. You are friends off the court so that’s tougher. It’s going to be interesting.”

Regardless, getting the shot at a prize in the Royals’ first-ever season represents significant success for the south London club who have talked up their ambitions to make a significant impact from the very outset.

Teething problems have been inevitable. Attendances at Crystal Palace far from capacity. The learning curve of recruitment.

And of coaching, says their playcaller who has worked extensively in lower tiers and junior ranks but not helmed a professional side over the ebbs and flows of a full campaign.

“I’ve definitely extended a lot because some of the things I’d forgotten about: the professional lifestyle had escaped me,” the ex-England international declares.

“Sometimes I think these guys should be working harder than they should be. I have to pull back a little to make sure they get enough rest. Xs and Os is fine but preparation for games is something I have to learn and get better at. Tony Garbelotto was here earlier in the season and he really helped me. There are a lot of things you need help with, off court stiff, and Tony G was a big help.”

Yet the Royals have won nine of their last ten games and the belated addition of Ashley Hamilton – always pre-identified as glue on and off the floor – has helped bind their impressive British core and a sprinkling of imported help.

More coherent, even regal, as they have moved up the league and earned a trip to Glasgow.

“It was a huge challenge, legitimately, at the start,” Williams says. “It’s about getting buy-in as a team. That we’re supportive of each other’s success rather than thinking ‘oh, I should be playing more minutes’.

“Once that’s cured, and everyone is happy, you see us go get better and better. Not every game is going to be for everybody. There may be match-ups. We’ve had guys step in and play great when some of the starters are playing badly. That’s been good for us.”

Lions, already with the BBL Cup corralled and on course for the franchise’s maiden league title, have been all but unstoppable since November with just a solitary meaningless loss to Manchester Giants in the second leg of the Trophy semi.

The Royals would be reaching over and above to dethrone their near-neighbours.

But why not aim high, Williams offers.

“It’s always good to get to a final and doing it in our first year shows we’re serious about what we’re trying to do.

“We talked about winning a piece of silverware this year and we’ve had a lot of tough games. But we’ve been fortunate in our draw. And now we’re in the final, we’re here to win it.”

BBL Trophy final, Sunday BBC Red Button / Online 4pm

Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • MySpace
  • Print

You must be logged in to post a comment Login