Paul Blake and Ian MacLeod are united in their respect for Newcastle’s BBL Trophy opponents after insisting Sunday’s showpiece clash is too close to call.

Team Solent Kestrels are the first team from outside the top flight to contest a major domestic final.

And Newcastle’s status as the most successful franchise in British basketball means the men in black are hot favourites to end their three-year wait for silverware.


But Newcastle owner Blake and head coach MacLeod are taking nothing for granted against the unbeaten Kestrels.

“Sometimes it’s nice to be the underdog but that’s not us this time,” said Blake. “We might be seen as the favourites but rest assured we’re making no assumptions.

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“Team Solent have beaten two very talented BBL teams to get this far and we’re going into Sunday’s game with our eyes wide open.”


MacLeod has been rightly lauded for leading Newcastle to the first final of the post-Fabulous Flournoy era – in his first season at the helm.

But the homegrown playcaller knows better than most that complacency cannot be allowed to creep in against a team that boasts BBL quality on and off the court.

“We will approach this game like we would any other,” insisted MacLeod.

“Our preparation doesn’t change just because our opponents play a division below us.


“What we cannot do is take anything for granted and we won’t.

“Solent’s record is 22-0. They’ve got a BBL budget and a venue that is good enough to host BBL matches.

“I think a lot of people would like to see the Kestrels move up from Division One.

“Like us, they have a lot of history and they’ve got a team that we hope will be in the BBL soon.”

In tandem with Flournoy, Blake fashioned a team that dominated the BBL for more than a decade.

But it all started with a Trophy win in 2005 – a result which gave the Eagles the confidence to complete a clean sweep of major silverware the following season.

“We’ve got a strong history in this competition,” added Blake.

“From my perspective and from the viewpoint of past players and those who have been here for some time, the BBL Trophy is the special one.

“It was the first one that we won and so we’ve always looked at it a little differently.

“Sunday is special for that reason and for the reason that we haven’t been to a final for a few years.”

Newcastle are taking more than 500 fans to Glasgow’s Emirates Arena on Sunday – the biggest travelling support in the club’s history.

And the Eagles will head north of the border prepared to give the sidelined trio of CJ Gettys, Drew Lasker and Eddie Matthew every opportunity to prove their fitness.

All three players were at the Eagles Community Arena for today’s pre-final press conference and all three would dearly love to play a part this weekend.

“It will be a game day call as far as the injured players are concerned,” said MacLeod.

Newcastle face Solent from 3.30pm on Sunday with the fixture shown on the BBC Sport website, BBC Red Button and also streamed live via the BBL’s YouTube channel.