One to Watch – BBL Play-off Final

Sheffield Sharks match up against league champions, Mersey Tigers, this weekend at the play-off final in Birmingham.  The Sharks embarrassed Mersey the last time these two met in a cup final at the NIA but somehow, we don’t think it’s going to be so easy this time around…

Mersey are in the hunt for the treble on Saturday after winning the BBL League championship and the BBL Trophy already this season.  The Sharks could make it a cup double themselves after claiming the BBL Cup against the Tigers back in January.

I suppose you could say it’s a grudge match but the reality is – these two teams are among the best to watch in the BBL and even if you don’t follow basketball, there’s going to plenty of things to enjoy…

…anybody who reads this site regularly (wishful thinking I know!) will be well aware of our ‘light obsession’ with the BBL Babes.  They’re the official cheerleading squad for the BBL and always put on a show at the major finals.  We’re massive fans of their talent and are secretly our main reason for pitching Saturday’s final as this week’s One to Watch.

The BBL mascot, Foxy, always seems to show up at these finals too and is renowned for his mischief.  During the BBL Trophy final, Foxy burst onto the O2 Arena court during a fourth quarter time-out, ruffled up the hair of a BBL Babe, fireman’s-carried another around the place and eventually set her down on the court-floor before putting an advertising board over her head!  When the cheerleader struggled the sign off of her, it crashed down into the commentator’s table and knocked into a Mersey Tigers player!

So, if you don’t like basketball but like cheerleaders and violent men in fancy dress – go and see Scream 4 …okay I’m kidding – tune into SKY Sports 4 on Saturday at 3.30pm and watch the show. All joking aside, it’s going to be a great spectacle and a fantastic finale to what has been a gladiatorial season in the British Basketball League.

Team of the Week – Kenya

If there’s one thing Kenya is known for – it’s that the people can’t half run.  They smashed the London marathon last weekend and get our vote for TOTW…

Mary Keitany and Emmanuel Mutai walked their marathons…well, they ran but you get what I mean.  Keitany broke the women’s half-marathon record to begin with, in 1:05.50 – it takes me that long to find a parking space in London.  She went on to finish the full race with a time of 2:19.18, some Russian came in second but more importantly another Kenyan, Edna Kiplagat, came in third!

Okay, sorry Russia – your countrywoman who finished in second was called Liliya Shobukhova.

Emmanuel Mutai won the men’s race and with a new course record of 2:04.40 and guess what – he’s Kenyan and we love him.  Mutai shares his surname with fellow Kenyan, Geoffrey Mutai, who went on to win the Boston Marathon this week too!  The bottom line is – Kenyans rule.

Paula Radcliffe was absent for the women’s race last weekend, which is just as well because nobody wants to see her piddle on the track again!  Fair play to Radcliffe though, she is one of just three women who have bettered Mary Keitany’s London time.

Apparently, it’s the ectomorphic bodies and other biological stuff which keeps Kenyans winning but it’s more than likely they just can’t stand London and want to get out ASAP, before paying congestion charges.

If you missed the Kenyan domination, don’t worry because they’ll be back again in 2012 to make us all feel fat.

One to Watch – Old Firm Derby

The Old Firm derby is set to be an explosive affair this Easter Sunday, following the parcel bomb incident earlier in the week…

Celtic boss Neil Lennon was to receive a mail-bomb in the post this week until mail room staff intercepted the package.  This isn’t the first time ordinance has been addressed to arrive at his office – in January somebody posted a few bullets his way and again, the Royal Mail staff intervened in good time.

Lennon has been subject to all forms of abuse since taking over at Celtic and it stems from his Catholic background.  Aside from his gifts in the post, he’s been physically assaulted by idiots in the past – two men were jailed for an attack in 2008.  The Old Firm derbies are traditionally heated through religion but there’s no room for such severity in the 21st century.

As for the game of football on Sunday, it’s a possible title decider with Celtic on 79 points behind Rangers’ 80.  Celtic have a game in hand over the blue side of Glasgow, so a win at the weekend would certainly blow up the top end of the table.

Rangers’ assistant manager, Ally McCoist, had this to say about the opposition in the build up to the match…

“Quite frankly, they are sick individuals who need the police to get them. It’s evil, absolutely evil. We can’t let these idiots win, and we won’t let them win.”

…a bit harsh…no wait, that’s the quote regarding the parcel bomb idiots this week, not Celtic FC!  McCoist has actually shown great sympathy towards Neil Lennon over the last few days and his respectable actions have reminded me of his Question of Sport days, when he wasn’t always on such a short fuse.

That temper derives from a passion for football though and not through a hatred of Catholics.  McCoist will be the first to tell you that this game on Sunday has nothing to do with war but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a battle on the pitch.  Whoever wins this match is likely to go on to win the title and whoever loses will effectively bomb out.

Hopefully, the police will be able to diffuse any crowd trouble quickly on Sunday before the game gets called off – even more hopefully, there will be no trouble at all and we can all watch a good game of footy.  If you’re like me and want to stay safe, don’t go to the game in a Hurt Locker suit – watch it from your home on SKY Sports 4/SKY Sports HD4, 12.00pm Sunday 24th April.