A week of inactivity gave Esh Group Eagles veteran guard Drew Lasker a chance to reflect on the mixed fortunes his side went through last weekend, writes Jeff King.
The Eagles bowed out of The BBL Trophy at home against Sheffield after a dramatic third quarter meltdown before bouncing back in superb style to keep their BBL Championship challenge alive at Cheshire Phoenix.
“Last weekend was the emotion of Jekyll and Hyde. The Trophy loss was a tough one to swallow. I don’t have a problem with losing but it’s the way we lose at times which is frustrating.”
“However, life in the BBL, means you can’t dwell and must move on and move on is what we did two days later. That was a great win because it was a grind out win on the road to a tough high riding team.”
“In the Sheffield game we showed a lack of killer instinct as a collective. We took our foot off the gas and got punished. Every team in the leagues are pros too and they have the mentality that they are always in a game despite the difference. We as a team have to always understand that.”
“The win a Cheshire showed our true colours and that we are capable of handling adversity at its toughest times. We could have easily given up on ourselves, but we showed maturity and understanding.”
“The season isn’t lost just because of the Sheffield loss. There is still silverware up for grabs and more importantly the league!”
Going almost two weeks without a game is not what most professionals want but Lasker says the team are using the time wisely.
“This week has been great for the guys to re-sharpen physical and mentally as we begin to take the march into a league title pursuit. We’ve had an opportunity to reflect this week, so we are excited to get back out there and redeem ourselves in front of our own supporters.”
That return to the court will be at Sport Central next Friday night as Newcastle take on the visiting London Lions in what will be another tough BBL Championship clash.
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“It’s going to be another great challenge, but we are embracing that. In order to win a league title there is no hiding. You have to face the good, bad or indifferent and that’s why it’s the toughest trophy to capture.”
The Eagles having gone out of both the Cup and Trophy competitions at the quarter-final stage for the first time since 2004 still have The League and Play-Off trophies in their sight but Lasker admits it’s hard not to be thinking about a final.
“It’s really strange to not be preparing for at least one Final. However, we have to live in the present and focus what’s in front of us. What the club has done in the past has no bearing on what this year’s team can achieve so we just have to focus on how good this team will be and what our story will be once the season ends.”
Lasker like many others in British Basketball will cast envious eyes on this afternoon’s BBL Cup Final between Worcester Wolves and Cheshire Phoenix, a game he thinks is hard to call.
“It’s hard to call the final as we haven’t seen Wolves in such a long time and they have had some moving parts. I’ll give the edge to Wolves only because of the coaching experience difference. Most players on the floor will be inexperienced so I think Paul James’ coaching experience will make the difference.”
One thing about last weekend that Lasker can reflect on with an immense amount of pride is that fact that he moved in to the Top Ten All-Time List for number of steals made in a game, eclipsing former Eagles Legend T J Walker.
“To be honest when I first came into the league, I just wanted to play basketball. I never thought about records or all-time lists. I just wanted to hoop. And to see that mentality turn into personal accolades and a place in history just makes all the sacrifice I’ve made in my life just to play basketball worth it.”
“Also, to be mentioned in the books with someone like T J who provided me with great advice and someone I looked up to is a real honour. When I came in to the league he was the only player I shared something in common with, as we played in the same college conference, that’s what makes it even more special.”
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