The beast will be unleashed in a bid to bolster Newcastle Eagles’ playoff bid after Darius Defoe declared himself fit for the post-season.

The shackles will be off the veteran forward with Sheffield Sharks standing between Newcastle and a semi-final spot.

And Defoe admitted he’s been like a coiled spring sitting out the regular-season run-in with a minor injury.

“I’ll be ready,” said a player with 12 playoff final appearances to his name. “It’s been frustrating for someone like me who doesn’t like being injured and hates watching basketball from the bench.

“I despise sitting on the sidelines.

“Watching my team-mates play, knowing that I can’t help them, is my worst nightmare.

“I want to be out there contributing to every play.

“But I’ll be back to face Sheffield – nobody needs to worry about that.”

Defoe has been wrapped in cotton wool for the last fortnight as player-coach Fabulous Flournoy focuses on the bigger picture.

But the Londoner looks likely to return alongside Victor Moses – who felt his way back into competitive action with a brief cameo against London last Friday – and Jeremy Smith this weekend.

Newcastle travel to South Yorkshire on Saturday before hosting Sheffield 24 hours later at the Eagles Community Arena.


And Defoe knows nothing less that victory in the two-legged quarter-final will satisfy the club’s success-hungry fans following an unspectacular regular season.

“It’s the last chance we have to win something and we want to be at the O2 on May 19,” he added.

“We haven’t been there for a couple of seasons and it’s time we went back.

“Sheffield are a good team but when we’re at our best we have enough to get past them over two legs.”

The Sharks squeaked out a victory on Tyneside last month on the way to securing sixth spot in the Championship table.

But Newcastle were some way from full strength on a night when several bench players mounted a thrilling rearguard action.

And Sheffield will be expecting a very different challenge when the fierce rivals lock horns on Saturday.

“Any one of the top eight clubs will fancy their chances of making the playoff final and most will believe they can win it,” added Defoe.

“The overall standard of the league has improved so much since I joined the BBL that it’s impossible to predict a clear favourite.

“London have won two trophies but I don’t think you could call the Lions favourites to win the playoffs. Up until the last few days London didn’t even know that they’d won the league.

“At this time of year we don’t look at who else could win the playoffs. We only look at ourselves. The semi-finals is our first target and I’m confident we can hit that target.”

Tickets are still on sale for Sunday’s quarter-final second leg – the first time the ECA has hosted playoff basketball.

The Sunday afternoon action starts at 5pm and both tickets and parking can be booked in advance now by: