Larry Austin Jr has warned Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles’ top-flight rivals to beware a locked-in backcourt in no mood to back down.
And Austin Jr believes head coach Marc Steutel’s vision of a seamless three-guard rotation is finally reaping rewards.
“When I talked to coach during the summer he made it clear he was intent on bringing in two more proven, senior guards,” said the former Cheshire Phoenix playmaker.
“I was fine with that. I know my capabilities and I know my game so I was just looking forward to seeing where I fitted in.
“Rickey [McGill] and JJ [Jordan Johnson] are both great guards and all of us can play one, two or three — at different times or on court together.
“We bring different things to the table and we’ve spent the last few months learning each other and working out how we can best benefit the team.
“We’ve developed a great chemistry together and right now the three-guard thing’s working really well. We’ll continue to build on that foundation and look to get better every day.”
Austin Jr faced a month on the sidelines after picking up a painful injury against London Lions on October 27.
And Friday’s Championship clash against Surrey will be the 27-year-old’s first taste of homecourt action in five weeks.
“It feels good to be back and I’m getting stronger every day,” added Austin Jr, after coming through another additional practice session with Eagles’ assistant Gary Stronach.
“I’m not back to where I was before the injury but I’m getting there.
“During my time out I’ve watched the guys really grow in confidence and it’s clear that the chemistry just keeps getting better and better within the group.
“When we were losing games earlier in the season everyone was frustrated but nobody pointed the finger or looked to attribute blame.
“We stayed strong together, believed in the process and remained connected. That connection is paying off at this point.”
Austin Jr, McGill and Johnson pose a daunting triple threat for those teams looking to put the skids under Newcastle’s 7-0 winning streak.
All three have the ability to pour in 20-plus points on any one night and their defensive intensity continues to disrupt the opposition’s offence.
Surrey discovered just how tough it is to limit the damage during Saturday’s heavy defeat in Guildford.
And ahead of Friday’s rematch Austin Jr added: “All three of us are constantly looking to attack, looking to get our team-mates involved and looking to control the game.
“We like to play fast and tough at both ends of the court and we don’t back down for anything or to anyone.
“That goes for this Eagles team as a whole — not just the guards.”
Newcastle’s November surge propelled the men in black into third place in the British Basketball League Championship last weekend.
And Leicester Riders were the last team to defeat Steutel’s men — way back on November 4.
But Austin Jr warned against complacency as Surrey plot Friday’s revenge mission on Tyneside.
“The final score against the Scorchers didn’t really tell the full story,” he added.
“Scorchers are a good team that’s well coached with plenty of talent. We can’t afford to take our eye off the ball.
“We have to come into the Vertu Motors Arena on Friday fully focused and determined to be us. We have to be the Eagles and to follow Marc’s game plan from tip to buzzer.”
The last remaining tickets for Friday’s clash are available from the box office.