Esh Group Eagles Newcastle v Plymouth University Raiders
Where and when:
Sport Central, 7.30pm Friday 18 December
The rejuvenated Plymouth Raiders are relishing their shot at unbeaten Esh Group Eagles Newcastle on Friday.
Eagles’ sensational season continued at a pace last weekend as they cruised into a fifth consecutive BBL Cup Final and extended their winning streak.
Raiders meanwhile wasted a 12-point fourth-quarter lead before falling in overtime to Bristol Flyers.
But it is their response to that set-back which has underlined their recent progress. Player-coach Daryl Corletto fuelled a fight-back of their own on Sunday, leading to victory at London Lions after another extra session, their fourth win in six.
Last time they met:
Plymouth Raiders 93 Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 99 (BBL Championship, Plymouth Pavilions, 11 October 2015)
Eagles: WWWWWW
Raiders: WLWWLW
Three Points:
  • Eagles are within one victory of their club record winning streak of 23
  • Eagles are scoring 94.21 points-per-game, nearly nine more than any other club
  • Raiders Daryl Corletto is averaging 19.4 points-per-game, putting him third on the league’s scoring list
What they say:
Eagles forward Scott Martin:
“Plymouth have been improving so we expect to get a team that will play hard and with some confidence.
“It will be important for us to execute defensively, because they are a team that can score a lot of points.”
Raiders player-coach Daryl Corletto:
“We’re looking forward to it. There’s no better challenge than playing the best team in the league and that’s what you play sport for, you come up against the best team and see how you go.
“We’re excited. We pushed them last time and the boys will get up for it and hopefully we can put on a good show in Newcastle on Friday night.”
Cheshire Phoenix v Esh Group Eagles Newcastle
Where and when:
Cheshire Oaks Arena, 5.30pm Sunday 20 December
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle and Cheshire Phoenix clash for the third time in as many weeks on Sunday with John Lavery’s men seeking revenge.
The unbeaten reigning champions dumped Phoenix out of the BBL Cup at the Semi-Final stage last weekend, despite a spirited second-leg display.
Cheshire will likely take heart from the way they finished that game, however, they fell to Bristol Flyers in their return to BBL Championship action last Sunday.
Eagles face Plymouth Raiders on Friday ahead of this one.
Last time they met:
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 100 Cheshire Phoenix 96 (BBL Cup Semi-Final second leg, Sports Central, 11 December 2015)
Phoenix: WLLLLL
Eagles: WWWWWW
Three Points: 
  • Charles Smith and Scott Martin scored 20 points each during Eagles’ win against Phoenix last Friday
  • Eagles’ Stu Thomson leads the BBL in field goal percentage at 77%
  • Phoenix’s Jordan Williams continues to lead the BBL in scoring with 22.3 points-per-game
What they say:
Phoenix guard Jordan Williams: “Last weekend was very tough, we fought a hard game against Newcastle in the second leg but it was too late and against Bristol we never came to play. We just have to keep improving our defence and believing in one another.
“Newcastle is just a tough team, mostly veterans on the squad so they know what it takes to win and they find a way. The first leg was horrible, we didn’t come out as planned but the second leg was better, we found something that was working and kept utilising it but the clock was against us. But we had some big positives out of that game and are just hoping to carry that over to Sunday and not just Sunday, we need to do it every game from here on out.”
Eagles forward Scott Martin: “Playing on this team right now is a lot of fun. The way we play together, both offensively and defensively, is a lot of fun to be a part of for me.
“I don’t believe there is any pressure on us to keep anything going. Right now we are just enjoying playing together and when that happens you tend to get positive results.
“Mentally it will be tough for both teams to play each other for a third time in such a short period of time. Both teams will have a very deep understanding of each other and what works for them and what does not.  It will be interesting to see what game strategies change, if any.”