By Jamie Thomas
It is the Glen Luss Glasgow Rocks’ final chance at securing
some silverware this season, after coming very close on two other occasions,
and one of their American stars Jaycee Hillsman is excited for the opportunity
the Rocks have to show what they can do in the upcoming BBL Play-offs.
Going against the second-seeded B. Braun Sheffield Sharks in
the quarter-finals, the Rocks and their electric offensive talents are going to
be met by one of the league’s best defensive units, so it will be a fascinating
battle of wits and play-calling between Head Coaches Atiba Lyons and Gareth Murray,
and we caught up with Hillsman to preview what lays ahead.
“The Playoffs are the biggest stage so it gives us the best
opportunity to showcase what we can really do as a team, and we’re ready and
excited for that. We’ve had an up-and-down season, for sure, with injuries to
key players meaning there have been difficult times for us.
“We’ve done really well to deal with that adversity though
and finding our balance and strengths as a team despite those issues, having
some good performances down the stretch to secure our playoff place, and we’re
playing good basketball so we can’t be too unhappy.
“Getting to two semi-finals this year and not winning them
definitely hurt, but we’ve learnt a lot from those experiences and at the end
of the day we’ve done well to even get to those positions with the injuries
we’ve suffered, and being in the playoffs now is a great opportunity.”
“We’ve got a lot of good things to build on.”
Such has been the nature of the BBL Championship campaign
this season, everybody has had their moments of looking unstoppable on the
floor, with the Rocks themselves in a relatively rich run of form at the moment
that has included some significant wins at home and on the road.
The Glasgow star leads the league in three-point percentage
and Hillsman reflects on the qualities of the team that he feels will stand
them in good stead for success in the post-season.
“We’re definitely a team that nobody wants to play against
in these playoff situations, because we’re such a tough team to play at home
and we’ve shown throughout the season that we can compete with anybody and beat
most teams whether we’re home or on the road.
“Losing Ali Fraser was a big blow for us as he was such a
key player for us and somebody we could go to when we were struggling to get a
bucket, but Boban (Jacdonmi) has done a great job down there, Jordan Johnson
has been great, Jordan Harris has had a terrific, consistent year – everybody
has stepped up when they’ve needed to.
“Whether we’re up or we’re down, we’ve shown that we are
always dangerous and capable of putting in consistent performances over 40
minutes. If we play the game at our pace, move the ball effectively, we’re such
a tough team to stop, and we can lock it down on the defensive end too, so
we’ve got a lot of good things to build on.”
“He’s done a great job of keeping us level-headed.”
Player-Coach Gareth Murray has had some great moments in his
second year combining playing with his coaching duties, coming close to securing
places in two major finals, and Hillsman admits he is full of admiration for
the job his teammate and coach has done.
“I couldn’t even comprehend before I got here what the role
of Player-Coach meant, but now that I’ve seen it for what it is I appreciate
just how difficult a role it is and how good a job he has done at fulfilling
“Having been a player only for most of his career, even the
little things that we take for granted like being able to sit in the back of
the bus and things like that are things he’s had to draw the line under and
step away from, because he has to be different to us even though he is a player
“He’s done a great job of keeping us level-headed, being
consistent with his energy and passion, and it has been a pleasure to work with
him. He has even stepped in and put in big performances when he has been
required to, showing us the heart, passion and determination he has to be the
best he can be even at 37 years old, and it is things like that which has
helped us make a strong playoff run.”
Get your tickets for the BBL Playoff Finals and join us
for the showpiece finale to an epic season at London’s 02 Arena on May