Thursday 23rd April 2015 – WISE Basketball Arena – 7:30pm
Friday 24th April 2015 – Sport Central – 7:30pm
An ‘unspoken goal’ begins to come into view for the all-conquering Newcastle Eagles as they enter the BBL Play-offs this weekend.
The BBL Championship, BBL Cup and BBL Trophy winners have been paired with top-flight rookies Bristol Flyers in the Quarter Finals after Andreas Kapoulas’ side snatched the final spot in their last game of the season. The teams will complete a grueling back-to-back, in Bristol on Thursday before the series moves north the following night.
For Newcastle, it represents the last leg of a potential clean of BBL silverware, which would be their second in four years.
It has never been openly discussed, but Drew Lasker for one is certainly not intimidated by the possibility.
“I would say it was an unspoken goal at the beginning of the season,” said the Eagles guard. “We never talked about it but now that the opportunity is here, why not let that be our goal? That’s something that we want to do and we are not shy about it, we are not trying to hide behind it. You don’t get this opportunity very often and we want to take advantage of it.”
Lasker was one of several Eagles carrying injuries through the closing stages of the league campaign, but all – except for player-coach Fab Flournoy – are expected to return for the post-season.
And Lasker feels it will be important that all are at their best if they are to overcome a Flyers side who are riding high at the moment, particularly during the away leg.
He added: “You have eight teams at 0-0 and what you have done before has now bearing on this mini-tournament so everybody has an opportunity. We know it is going to be a rowdy away game because it’s their first Play-off game and they are going to be hyped and energised and the crowd are going to be into it. We have to make sure we mark their energy and limit their runs because if that happens the crowd gets into it early.”
The atmosphere and energy from their home crowd, which has grown in numbers and excitement during a fantastic debut BBL season, is something Flyers coach Andreas Kapoulas will aim to harness.
“The atmosphere at the WISE arena is fantastic and keeps getting better and louder every game,” said Kapoulas.
“It will definitely be a factor, we always look forward playing at our home and we try to use the fans’ energy to our advantage, especially as it is so important to get off to a great start early in the game.”
But Kapoulas is well aware that such energy must be allied with effective execution if Flyers are to have any hope of pulling off what would be a huge shock.
He added: “We could not have asked for a tougher match-up, however, we do not have anything to lose and that makes us dangerous. We have identified certain areas that we need to concentrate on, however, the number one priority is to put together a solid defensive performance and not allow them to find their rhythm.”
Regular season head-to-head results:
Newcastle Eagles 98 Bristol Flyers 72 (Sport Central, 17 Oct 2014)
Bristol Flyers 93 Newcastle Eagles 105 (WISE Basketball Arena, 29 Nov 2014)
Newcastle Eagles 101 Bristol Flyers 74 (Sport Central, 20 Mar 2015)