Storm aiming for a national final this weekend

Storms 6ft 5ins Californian guard AJ Roberts has been a mainstay this season and Hemel fans will be hoping he can score heavily in their clash with table-toppers Loughborough Riders this Saturday.
Storms 6ft 5ins Californian guard AJ Roberts has been a mainstay this season and Hemel fans will be hoping he can score heavily in their clash with table-toppers Loughborough Riders this Saturday.

Hemel Storm’s head coach Robert Youngblood vows that his charges will be ready for league-leading Loughborough Riders in the National Cup semi-final in Hemel on Sunday.

The same two sides met in a dress rehearsal at Hemel’s Sportspace arena this past weekend in a National League Division One clash, with the Riders coming out on top on this occasion, 86-73.

Hemel Storm head coach Robert Youngblood.

Hemel Storm head coach Robert Youngblood.

But Storm boss Youngblood was quick to point out that things will be different when Loughborough arrive in Hemel for the crucial National Cup semi-final jaunt this weekend.

He said: “Come Sunday you’ll see a different Storm team for sure.

“We’ll be well-prepared and ready to go to war.

“There’s nothing like a trip to a national final – but we’ll have to play hard for 40 minutes to get there.”

Youngblood is no stranger to national finals, having played in numerous title games as a player during his long and illustrious British basketball career.

A tenacious competitor, he retired as one of the best players to grace the British game, featuring in the top-ten of four UK all-time statistical categories – games played, points, blocks, and rebounds.

Hemel fans will hope he can impart some of the fire he used to play with into his defensive corps for Sunday’s cup encounter.

As a coach, Youngblood also has a good record and before he joined Hemel this summer he led Essex Leopards for three seasons, coaching them to final-four appearances each term, a National Trophy win in 2013, a league runner-up spot in 2014 and the league title in 2015.

Despite the loss to the same Riders this past weekend, Hemel will know they can live with this Loughborough outfit.

They came out for the second-half of that game on Saturday with the scores knotted at 43 points apiece after a spirited first-half performance.

But the Riders took over the game late in the third period with some accurate three-point shooting.

The semi-final is at Hemel’s Sportspace this Sunday with a 5pm tip-off.

For tickets or further information, see the website www.stormbasketball.net.