Esh Group Eagles Newcastle face yet another tough and crucial week in their quest to fashion a position from where they could bring silverware back to basketball’s most successful franchise, writes Jeff King.
On Friday night at Northumbria University Sport Central they face Cheshire Phoenix in a BBL Championship clash and then the following night they travel to Leicester to take on The Riders in a BBL Cup quarter-final.
They’ve already played both teams once this season defeating Cheshire in their opening game of the season but losing out to Leicester just under two weeks ago in a crucial Championship game that was followed by another defeat at Bristol the following night.
It was therefore imperative that they got back on winning tracks last weekend when they saw off Worcester Wolves 97 – 89 to give them confidence going in to this week. That performance against Worcester had elements that pleased Assistant Coach Dave Forrester.
“We really worked on our offence and our spacing last week in practice and it was pleasing to come out and be so offensively efficient. Scoring 97 points against any team in this league is not easy and when we get into the 90s, we expect to win.”
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“It was also nice that we were able to close out the win without Rahmon (Fletcher) needing to play in the fourth quarter.”
Fletcher is expected to be fit enough to play a full part in both this weekend’s games. His departure from last Friday’s game was a precaution but a one that Forrester felt was necessary even though the game was closer than a lot of pundits were predicting.
“I honestly have no idea why people think that games in this league are going to be easy. Worcester as a team are far better than their record and we knew that going into the game.”
“They had struggled through an adjustment period with players new to the league and a new coach but make no mistake they are a talented group with impressive individual resumes.”
“It was only going to be a matter of time before they put it all together and I am glad we were able to get the win.”
That win is now safely tucked in to the right column for The Eagles. Now, Forrester has turned his thoughts to this week’s games, what he believes the team need to do and explained how they went about dealing with two games in such a short space of time.
“Practice will be as detailed as normal. We have played eight competitive games; no team is going to be close to the finished article in that time and we will spend this week emphasising our concepts and getting more repetitions in.”
“We have to play the games in the order that they come. We have played both teams once already which helps a lot in that we have an idea what we are going up against. But at this time of the year its really all about us and getting better and more consistent in what we do.”
Clearly Forrester is focused on the job ahead and along with his fellow Assistant Ian Macleod and Head Coach Fab Flournoy, that is the message that they will be instilling in to their players as the weekend looms.
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