It’s a blockbuster of a weekend and could be season defining!
These teams have shared 10 of the last 13 pieces of BBL silverware on offer and meet for the first time this season at Sport Central this weekend.
Eagles remain the front runners in the BBL Championship, having lost just two games all season.
But Rob Paternostro’s Riders – as well as Worcester Wolves – are hot on their heels, on an eight-game winning streak which has pulled them within six points, with two games in hand.
But this is no surprise to Andrew Thomson and his team-mates.
“Leicester are on a great run and this fixture has been marked down from day one,” said Thomson.
“Before the season started we always knew Leicester would be there or thereabouts when it comes to this part of the season.
“It comes down to the way Rob Paternostro runs his team and how he does his homework on the opposition.
“You throw in the team environment down there and it’s working very well for them. But we have the same environment up here and these are the games we want to play in.
“We will follow the game plan that Fab and Dave set out and it’s going to come down to the last couple of possessions and who can execute under pressure.”
That coaching tandem of Fab Flournoy and Dave Forrester has provided the platform for Eagles to reach a new level this season.
But Thomson can still see room for improvement.
“We need to tighten up on our defence and work on being consistent for the whole game,” added Thomson.
“Every team wants to do this but we pride ourselves on being defensive minded and we have been on and off recently so we need to tune in and work together.
“This will lead into our offence where we need to convert our stops in transition and in the half-court.”
Last time they met:
Newcastle Eagles 83 Leicester Riders 71 OT (BBL Play-offs semi-finals, Eagles won 162-161 on aggregate, Sport Central, 04/05/2014)
What they say:
Riders forward Ant Rowe: “There’s not one thing in particular that you can do to stop Newcastle Eagles. They are a very good basketball team that have strengths in many different aspects on court.
“Coach Paternostro will prepare us to win the basketball game, we have to go out there and execute and, of course, be ready for battle.”
Glasgow Rocks will call on the spirit of their BBL Cup campaign to help them advance to the final four of the BBL Trophy at the expense of Newcastle Eagles on Sunday.
Rocks produced performances that were impressive and dramatic in equal measure to defeat London Lions and Leicester Riders en route to January’s BBL Cup Final.
But standing in their way in Birmingham were a Newcastle Eagles side who have beaten them in their last 11 meetings.
Therefore to overcome such a dominant foe would represent a huge achievement for Sterling Davis’ side.
“Beating Newcastle on Sunday would be great, they have been a real challenge for us this year, and have been excellent in league play,” said explosive forward Tayo Ogedengbe.
“Advancing to the next round of the Trophy is definitely our goal, we have upset some great teams this season already so we plan to do so again.”
Last year’s Trophy finalists head into the weekend off the back of another thrilling finish, having rallied to come from behind and beat Manchester Giants last time out.
Such spurts demonstrate Rocks’ character and potential to produce when the game is on the line.
But it is performing to their best on a more regular basis throughout the contest that will be the chief concern for Ogedengbe and his team-mates on Sunday.
“The key for us will be trying to stay consistent all the way through the game,” Ogedengbe added.
“It’s tough to play a team so many times in a short space of time but it also means you can make adjustments which are fresh in your mind.”
Last time they met:
Newcastle Eagles 96 Glasgow Rocks 67 (BBL Championship, Sport Central, 23/01/2015)
What they say:
Eagles forward Andrew Thomson: “It is tougher each time you play one another, as you make adjustments on how to play.
“It then comes down to making quick adjustments in the game where needed, while keeping to your game plan.
“They have changed their point guard so that means a new direction and style they may play and we have to be ready.”