BRADFORD Dragons are back on their home court this weekend after nearly a month off for Christmas, with veteran power forward Ricky Fetske conscious that they cannot let the biggest game in their history distract them.

The Dragons have underwhelmed in the first half of the 2023/24 National Basketball League Division One season, winning four and losing seven of their 11 games so far, and are eager to improve that record when they host Loughborough Riders at Calderdale College tomorrow evening in a 6:15pm tip-off.

Despite that leaving them eighth in the 13-team table, Bradford only have a negative points difference of minus nine, and have been unlucky with some of those defeats.

Fetske feels the fact the Dragons have reached the KitKing Trophy final, which will take place against high-flying Derby Trailblazers at Loughborough University on Saturday, March 16, is a better reflection of the team’s ability.

If Bradford were to win that, it would be their first piece of major silverware in their 23-year history.

But Fetske warned: “We want to be at our peak level and have momentum going into that final in March, it’s the same with the end of season league play-offs.

“We’re not deterred by our disappointing first half to the league campaign, because we’ve been far better than that, and showed what we’re capable of, in the KitKing Trophy.

“We’re grateful for the final, but we have to take it one game at a time, so this weekend’s game against Loughborough is our only focus right now.

“Away wins are a bonus, but you really want to defend your home court, so that, along with the fact we can close the gap on Loughborough (who sit sixth after seven wins and four defeats) is enough of an incentive to win this game.”

Fetske, who hopes to be at 100 per cent ahead of that cup final, is currently sat out with Achilles tendonitis, which he believes is a knock-on effect from the hip surgery last April.

Andreas Lycoudis and Albert Margai have had even longer injury lay-offs, but the trio are all on their way back or working their way back towards peak fitness.

That will be a huge boost to the Dragons, even if Fetske knows his team-mates have shown themselves to be more than capable of providing excellent cover in their absence.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Albert Margai (10) is a crucial player on the Dragons' roster, so they will be desperate for him to feature regularly in the second half of the season.Albert Margai (10) is a crucial player on the Dragons' roster, so they will be desperate for him to feature regularly in the second half of the season. (Image: Max Lomas.)

Even better, Bradford announced a vital new signing in the week in the form of prolific forward Ronald Blain, formerly of the Dragons’ divisional rivals Newcastle University and Worthing Thunder.

Blain was surprisingly released by his Irish Superleague club Sligo All-Stars in September, and has not played since, but Fetske has backed the 26-year-old American to hit the ground running on his long-awaited return.

The Dragons stalwart enthused: “Ronald can take on my role perfectly while I’m out, both in terms of his performances and his leadership qualities.

“He’s an excellent player, who is very experienced in our division having played for Newcastle and Worthing before.

“He’s already shown he’s a natural leader in training and we were able to get him because we can have three Americans on our roster.

“You’re allowed two, but because I’m married to a European and have now been in the UK for years, my visa status means I don’t count as someone taking up an American spot, which has allowed us to have Ronald and Justin Williams on our roster too.”