Tim Lewis doesn’t want to limit the aspirations of the BBL’s newest franchise, Essex Pirates, when they tip off their inaugural campaign in the league this Saturday evening.
“We want to win it all,” he declares. He’s kidding surely? A little. But, unlike many (self included), he believes the Southend-based club are not destined to challenge London – their inaugural opponents - for the wooden spoon despite an almost exclusively domestic cast.
“I’ll be happy if we’re competitive every night,” he adds. “And if we make the top eight. We’re going to play a different style of basketball to the rest of the BBL and that might surprise a few teams. But I want to make the play-offs.”
Essex will be different, certainly. The average age of their squad is just 22, the eldest just 26.
Only two recruits, Dean Williams and Alan Metcalfe, have prior form in the BBL. Only one player, Spanish guard Pablo Rodrigo, hails from outside these shores. It has been a while since a team adopted a homegrown policy. Eventually, Chester – marooned at the foot of the table – had to import extra help to avoid embarrassment.
“I’m not sure experience is the most important thing,” Lewis counters. “If you look at a team like Milton Keynes, with a lot of veterans, they’re not fast-paced and there may be an advantage for us there in the right system.
“We have a good bunch of guys. There are players who have been in the GB Under 20s who can still improve and some young players who I’m excited about working with.
“I’ve said all along that we want to do this with a mainly British team and I think that can be a positive for the league.”
- Lewis will interview this week for the post of GB Under 20 coaching post which was re-advertised following a disappointing summer campaign.
“It was always a two-year deal,” he confirmed, “so I had to re-apply whatever.”