Leicester Riders want to seize the opportunity to claim silverware this evening.

Not because the threat of Covid hangs over the WBBL like a dark cloud with so many postponements already and a backlog of unplayed fixtures that may eventually make completion of the Women’s British Basketball League campaign an impossibility.

Simply, declares Ella Clark, because the rearranged Cup final, against Sevenoaks Suns in Manchester, represents just one quarter of a four-slice pie.

“We want to add a trophy to the trophy cabinet because hopefully we want to do a clean sweep this year,” the forward declares.

“That’s the goal for any team. We definitely want to win. But I’m not going to talk about the season possibly ending because I hope it doesn’t.”

And yet, curtailment looms large. The hurdles in the WBBL are just so much greater than with their male counterparts – with possibly any other league ongoing – with less testing and the semi-pro nature of the enterprise which means more participants must interact with the outside world.

Without a bubble, reality bites. A reason why Sevenoaks withdrew from the final on its original date last month when the Cup holders opted for a six-week hiatus in the cause of self-preservation.

An approach seemingly justified when the pandemic’s arrival in the Leicester camp forced the showpiece to be reconvened at this later date – with the Suns restored to their rightful place on the slate with replacements, Nottingham, ushered out.

The best of all outcomes, concedes Riders guard Hannah Robb.

“You always want to see the top teams in the final,” she says. “Respect to Nottingham, but Sevenoaks did make it. They did their job. And they made the final. So of course, you want to see the two teams that deserve to be there fighting for this piece of silverware.”

These are unusual times though. Before their own outbreak, Leicester had mulled over the idea of a hiatus of their own, head coach Jesper Sundberg confirms.

Basketball matters. Despite evidence to the contrary, this is not life and death.

And yet with Sevenoaks getting their band back together, it is a scrap between two unbeaten sides, albeit with Leicester presently 5-0 atop the WBBL Championship and the Suns with one win from a solitary league appearance as they pursue a title which may end up vacant rather than defended.

That W came in Newcastle on December 13. Len Busch’s side have not played since.

“We definitely have an advantage in that aspect,” offers Robb. “We have been playing and training, but that’s definitely not something we’re under-estimating about Sevenoaks.

“They’re a great team. And they have a lot of experience, like playing with each other, and they retained a lot of their core. And they play well with each other.

“Like, although we have been playing, it’s not something that we are overlooking about this team. We know that they’re tough, and they are going to be ready to come out fighting just as much as we are.”

Cat Carr, so often Sevenoaks’ totem, will shrug off any fake war before the clash of the current domestic titans.

Her group have been through enough over recent years to cope with minor hardships. Their resolve remains undimmed.

“This has definitely been the most trying year I’ve had at the club, so winning would be awesome and probably top any of the other things I’ve won here,” the American told the WBBL website.

“As a team we’ve gone through a lot collectively, individually, and personally, in this timeframe of uncertainty and everything that is going on. So it would mean a lot to be successful this weekend and this season.

“Some people might say it’s just basketball, but this is what we do – this is our profession, our livelihood and what we do day in, day out.”

However, the Riders are playing with composure and cohesion. Confidence too.

“Everyone’s bringing something different to the table,” Clark notes. “It’s nice that we have different options. If one option gets shut down, we can find something else pretty easily.”

Adding Robb, who earned her second GB cap in last week’s fateful loss to Belarus, was a boon last summer.

So too bringing back Holly Winterburn from her abortive spell in America. “It’s really nice, honestly, to be on the same side as Holly for once and not against her,” Robb declares.

“Because she’s tough. She’s a tough competitor and just an all-around great player. And it is really fun to play with her. She can create for herself, but she also does a really good job of creating for her team-mates.

“And that’s something I think as a team we do really well together. We play well and kind of look for each other.”

The Sky Sports date (5.30) is a rare chance for the WBBL, now in its seventh season, to be put in front of a wider audience.

Important, Robb admits, with the women’s game still fighting to capture hearts and minds.

“Using the opportunities that we have to showcase the games that we can is huge. I think we can still do a little bit more. But definitely, it’s a start in getting the showpiece games broadcast and promoted.”

Watch the final here on

Images: @Ridersbball, Ahmedphotos

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