London City Royals: Do the new kids have what it takes?
Last Season Finish: N/A
Makem Takem Prediction 2018/19: 4th
Key Player(s): Bryan-Amaning
Likely Starting Five: PG – Dusha / SG – Roberts / SF – Hamilton / PF – Neighbour / C – Bryan-Amaning
Concerns: How quickly can they gel as a team?
Most fans have given London City Royals a warm welcome to the BBL and another team based in the capital is long overdue. That said the pleasantries will come to end at the opening tip of the first game of the season and how they stack up against the more experienced teams will determine whether they succeed or fail.
Coach Junior Williams is no stranger to the BBL having played for two previous London clubs (both now defunct), Glasgow Rocks as well as being an assistant coach for the, now local rivals, London Lions. Coach Williams also has plenty of experience as a head coach but this will be his first foray into the BBL as a Head Coach and their success will be impacted by how he takes to life in the UK’s top league.
He has had his life made a bit easier by the British flavoured roster that Director of Basketball Nhamo Shire has been able to bring together. The not unexpected but still impressive signing of big man Matthew Bryan-Amaning is the standout acquisition and he could terrorise a league where the quality of big men can sometimes be a bit suspect. Supporting him in the frontcourt will be Ashley Hamilton, who joins after a very successful spell in LEB Gold in Spain, as well as Will Neighbour and Orlan Jackman, who are both coming off BBL seasons with Plymouth and Cheshire respectively.
If there are concerns in the Royals roster it is within the backcourt. It is not clear as to whether Elvisi Dusha or Ed Lucas will take the starting point guard position. Dusha is a pass-first guard whilst Lucas is more focused on scoring and with that in mind, it is likely that Dusha will get the nod as feeding a hungry frontcourt will be his first responsibility. Taking on the two guard spot will be AJ Roberts who joins the Royals after a dominant season with the Hemel Storm in Division One.
They have only announced seven players and only two of their potentially five import slots have been filled, therefore, it will be interesting to see who is brought in to complete the Royals inaugural roster. The question has to be, do they bring in cheaper talent from overseas or keep to their mission statement and provide opportunities for British players to play in the BBL. The first option is tried and tested and should see them have a very successful first season. The second option is admirable but with it comes the risk that they won’t fulfil their potential. With a new club, the need to attract fans and sponsors fast is huge and that means that the need for quick success is very high. We will wait in the wings to see how this one pans out but most neutrals hope to see the Royals establish themselves in the BBL and I think we are all looking forward to the return of some heated London derbies.