EAGLES ace Jeremy Hyatt is hoping to make his long-awaited return against Milton Keynes tonight but has admitted that Sunday’s BBL Trophy Final is barely on his radar. The club’s longest serving player has had a worrying record of missing big games and played only a bit part role in January’s BBL Cup Final.
The player was also at the centre of controversy during last year’s BBL Trophy Final when he was again injured but declared himself fit for the clash to be subsequently told by Fab Flournoy he wouldn’t be risked.
It was a situation that didn’t reflect well on either the player or the coach, particularly in the context of the shocking performance and humiliation that ensued when the Eagles gave up their prized piece of silverware on their own court to the Plymouth Raiders.
You would therefore expect Hyatt to be focusing all his efforts on making it a final to remember on Sunday, but his persistent and niggling knee injury has caused him to re-assess his priorities going into the weekend.
‘I am excited about one thing only – and that is getting back onto the court and playing basketball again,’ he said. ‘I am not looking to the Final but just getting back into the team and contributing. I haven’t set myself a goal of being back for the final but not because of anything that has happened in the past or because it is seen as a big game.’
‘I only ever look at the next game and that is against Milton Keynes when I hope I can be back on court helping out.
The situation is helped by the fact that the guys are playing well and we have been winning games, so there has been no need to rush back.’
The game against the Lions is a pivotal one in the race for the BBL title as another league victory would certainly pile the pressure on to Guildford. And Hyatt feels that this year’s Eagles team is as well placed as any of the others he has played with to strike for silverware.
‘It was disappointing to lose the Cup Final against Milton Keynes,’ he said, ‘but in terms of the league we are really up and running right now and have put ourselves in a great position. At this stage of the season the team is in as good a position as I can remember. That means that we have a real chance of winning more trophies – and we wouldn’t want to be any other place in terms of the league.’
‘It is important that we have experience of being in the position but also that we recognise games come thick and fast in the BBL, starting now. We have to stay healthy down the stretch and see things through. But it will be tough, starting with the Lions and Guildford.’
Not least because Milton Keynes and the Heat are the only two teams that Flournoy and his players have yet to taste victory against this season.