Head coach Rob Paternostro believes Leicester Riders are a better side than last season as they look to retain the BBL Cup with a repeat victory over Newcastle Eagles on Sunday.
Riders edged a thrilling final against Eagles 85-80 in 2013, and also went on to win the BBL title and play-offs.
But Paternostro insists being tagged as the team to beat did not affect them.
"I didn't pay any attention to that and like the way the guys have improved," he told BBC East Midlands Today.
"That is the important thing - to get a team that improves all the time. With the young players we have I feel we are getting better and better."
Riders are second in the BBL Championship, two points adrift of leaders Worcester but with a game in hand.
Eagles, for so long the dominant force in British Basketball, are four points, and two places below Leicester.
Riders skipper Barry Lamble said continuity and the drive and determination within the group is behind their success.
"The coach knows what is needed for the team to progress year on year and we just develop," the centre said.
"We make sure we work hard enough to get into position to get into finals.
"Continuity is absolutely massive. It's been a long time coming because usually we change players every year but now we have it and that really helps."
Lamble is also quick to praise Paternostro, the BBL coach of the year in 2013.
"The players respond to him," Lamble added. "He has a proven record.
"He has been in this league playing and coaching for a long time and whatever he has done in this league has worked. Last season we won three out of four trophies."