Playcaller Fabulous Flournoy may already have clinched every major accolade in British basketball but the Eagles coach last night expressed his bitter disappointment at losing the BBL Cup final to Milton Keynes Lions.
For a second consecutive year the Newcastle Eagles lost at the final stage of the competition and gifted the cup to a team who have never before lifted the trophy. And the BBL veteran believes the defeat inside Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena is tantamount to the pain he felt after losing in the final against Plymouth 12 months ago.
‘It hurts just as much as when we lost last year,’ said the New Yorker. ‘But it’s a huge mission to play against a team driven by emotion and determination. They have never been in this situation before and they were an organisation playing hard to win their first competition. The only thing we can do now, though, is get on with the season.’
‘We have bigger fish to fry because we will be looking to win every game we play in from now. It’s important to remember that we are just like the other 11 teams in the league who did not win the cup.’
Last night’s final stage disappointment rules out any chance of the Eagles repeating 2006’s historic clean sweep campaign, but Flournoy is adamant that they will bounce back.
‘I just want to go back up to Newcastle and get on with the season,” continued Flournoy. “It’s important that we win every game now. We have to carry this with us for the rest of the season and I feel terrible now but we will have to come back from this.’
The Eagles took an early lead but were shocked by hot shooting from the Lions as they fought back to assume control of the contest. But Flournoy holds an unwavering belief that the game was lost because of errors inside the Eagles camp – and not because the Lions were a better team.
‘A couple of things went wrong for us,’ said Flournoy. ‘We had a game plan for what we were going to do and early on we stuck to that. And we had them on the ropes but then we got selfish going forward and stopped what we were supposed to do in defence.’
‘We let them take too many three-point shots and at first they were missing them but then all of a sudden they got hot. It gave them confidence and they put distance between the two teams. It was easy at first but then it went away from us. It was our game to lose and they won because they took what we gave them. Clearly we did the job on the inside but for whatever reason we just seemed to blow it.’
The Tynesiders will hope to resume normal order tomorrow night when they go toe-to-toe with Eagles defector Richard Midgley and his Everton team-mates in the Metro Radio Arena.