Newcastle Eagles v UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders

Friday 30 November 2012

Sport Central (19:30)

The first 2013 BBL Cup finalist will be decided at Sport Central on Friday evening as Newcastle Eagles host UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders.

A dominant performance in the West Country on Sunday evening saw Eagles take a 107-90 lead into the tie – thanks mainly to 29 points apiece from Damon Huffman (pictured) and Charles Smith – and with the aggregate winner progressing to January 13’s final at the NIA in Birmingham, Fab Flournoy’s side will go into Friday’s game as massive favourites.

Despite that big lead, Flournoy remains focused on retaining the first of the four pieces of silverware that Eagles collected last season: “Given the amount of talent on the Plymouth team I don’t think there is any way that we will be complacent. 17 points can be gone extremely quickly.”

The Eagles player/coach sat out the win at Plymouth Pavilions with an injury, but he was delighted with how his side performed in the game: “Against Plymouth we really moved the ball well and knocked down the open shot when we had it. Our defence was ok although we did have a few communication breakdowns which we can improve upon.

“I can’t really single any one of our players out, they all followed the game plan that we had. For Plymouth Jeremy Bell was, as always, a threat and Colin O’Reilly was extremely efficient.”

Flournoy is hoping to return to action on Friday: “I hope to be able to play at the weekend. I have a little tightness is my hamstring which I will get checked out this week but I don’t see it as being anything particularly serious.”

Raiders’ coach Gavin Love isn’t giving up despite his side needing to make up a big deficit: “Despite losing by 17 points we played a solid game against a team that simply caught fire from all angles. Huffman was the key to the win, he had his best game by far of the campaign.

“We must make better decisions and execute better in pressure situations.

“The Eagles look to have started the season as they finished it last year, they have added some fresh faces who have meshed with their roster straight away. They have a very talented team but you can’t look past the MVP of the league Chapman, and obviously Charles Smith is playing at a very high level.”

Eagles guard Joe Chapman was also delighted with his side’s win in Plymouth: “I think our loss against Leicester got us motivated and now we’re peaking at the right time, we’re getting accustomed to our roles and we’re started to get going.

“Anthony Martin came off the bench against his old club and played well. Charles [Smith] and Damon [Huffman] shot very well, and Darius [Defoe] and Kareem Maddox did a great job in the middle. I was just trying to get everyone the ball as they were doubling me a lot.”

Having won the Molten BBL Most Valuable Player award last season as the Eagles completed a clean sweep, Chapman admits that sides have paid extra attention to him this year: “A lot of teams have tried to blanket me this season, I knew that would be the case and I’ve had to change me game and get the other guys involved. It’s worked well because they’re making their shots.”

Friday’s game will be a repeat of last year’s final where Eagles collected the first of four pieces of silverware with a 115-94 victory.

The teams also met in the BBL Trophy final where each side won their home leg but Eagles made it two pieces of silverware with a 184-177 aggregate success, and Fabulous Flournoy’s side also won two of three BBL Championship games between the teams.

Eagles have won ten of the last 12 meetings between the two sides, and have a 23-11 lead in the all-time series of games between the two franchises.