Andy Goodale believes Portsmouth Fury will not show any signs of rust when travel to Southampton Eagles in SABA division one east on Wednesday night, writes Tom Bonnett.
The Fury were last in action on December 13, suffering a 92-62 defeat to Royal Navy Smugglers.
In their first match back after the festive break, the Fury visit league leaders the Eagles at Cantell Sports Centre (7.15pm).
The Southampton outfit have won four of their five games to date this season, including a 92-75 triumph over the Fury in the reverse fixture on the opening day of the campaign.
Goodale is expecting a tough test against the Eagles and knows the importance of thwarting their star player Titas Leonickas.
But the Fury captain reckons his youthful troops can exploit the hosts’ lack of speed.
‘A lot of our players are returning back this week after Christmas, so it will be interesting to see what kind of shape everyone is in,’ said Goodale.
‘Hopefully our players have been enjoying themselves, but have also been putting in work off the court so we are able to hit the ground running again.
‘The Eagles are a very aggressive but competent side – but if they have a weakness then it’s their speed.
‘If we can control the pace of the game and run the fast break with our own speed and youth then I feel we can control the game.
‘Titas (Leonickas) can shoot from anywhere on the court and we need to try to limit his touches.
‘With the ball in his hands he can easily create his own shots.
‘By limiting those touches we can try to make the other Eagles players score, which would make things a lot easier for us.’
The Fury’s 30-point defeat to the Smugglers last month raised questions whether they are up to the task of competing at the highest level of Solent basketball.
Despite sitting second bottom in division one east, Goodale is adamant the Fury’s fortunes can be turned around.
The captain added: ‘We feel like we are definitely competing in this league. We believe we can win every game.
‘Last season, we went unbeaten in the league and domestic cup competition so we have earned the right to play at this level.
‘We actually think we could and should have won our first two games this season against the Eagles and The Phoenix.
‘If we had then we would have four wins and it would be a different story.
‘We have been very unlucky with injuries, with three of our starting five unable to play, so considering everything we feel we have competed pretty well so far.’
Elsewhere in the division, Navy Smugglers travel to Winchester Royals on Tuesday as they look to maintain their unbeaten start.