The Surrey Scorchers have suffered a disrupted domestic season in 2020/21 which has affected their team chemistry.
The Scorchers sit bottom of the British Basketball League, having won just one of their opening six games, but have at least two games in hand on all of the teams above them.
Head coach Creon Raftopoulos believes a brutal combination of Covid and injuries have led the Scorchers to lose sight of their identity.
He said: “With everything that’s been going on, we have not had an opportunity to build up the team chemistry that we had.
“We don’t have the identity that I thought we would have at the beginning of the season – it has now shifted and we’re trying to find that.”
Issues plagued Raftopoulos’ side after they defeated the Worcester Wolves to advance in the British Basketball League (BBL) Cup back in November.
He added: “There’s a lot of different aspects that come into where we are right now.
“We were getting ready for the Christmas period and then bang – we got hit with Covid. It made me aware but experiencing that was horrible. We had eight players go down with it.”
Injuries and financial limitations have also affected the personnel available for selection.
Raftopoulos said: “We had a key player like TrayVonn White, who I had high hopes for, and lost him to a crazy injury in a layup drill.
“We lost our point guard who started the season well, Connor Cashaw, to a hamstring injury in the first game of the season so everyone was like ‘wow, what’s going to happen next?’
“Then Rashard Hassan was going to be our key focus, and he ended up getting a bigger offer – he’s a new dad, so finances play a big part in it.
“If somebody is going to make six times the money that we are paying, it’s very difficult to keep them.”
Even a single quarter has let the Scorchers down this season, namely against Cheshire and Manchester recently.
The Scorchers found themselves losing 80-66 to the Manchester Giants on Saturday, having been leading 38-35 at half time, but ending up down 60-46 after a disastrous third quarter.
Raftopoulos is hoping to win Surrey’s games in hand to move up the table and may have to be ruthless to do so.
He added: “Every game we go into we need to win – that’s my approach, that’s our approach as a team.
“My style of play has always been up-tempo and one of the slight mistakes I have made is adjusting to accommodate the personnel that we have, so maybe we just need to get it back to the style that has been successful for the Surrey Scorchers.
“If the players can’t play that way, then we need to get the right players that can play that style of basketball.”
Despite their turbulent start, the BBL season is certainly not over – and Raftopoulos is confident that if the team gel and buy into his system, the results will come.
He said: “As long as you still have a chance of making the playoffs mathematically, you’ve got quite a bit to play for.
“We’ve got a ton of games to play because of the backlog so it’s going to be tough.
“Nobody is going to feel sorry for us – we just need to sort out our house and try to pick up some wins.
“Hopefully my players buy into what they need to do and we take the opportunity to try and climb the BBL table.”
Featured image credit: Rob Sambles.