Newcastle Eagles are in no mood to concede the league title to Leicester Riders despite the crippling injury crisis affecting the BBL’s second-placed club.
Ahead of Thursday night’s top two clash in the East Midlands, assistant coach Dave Forrester promised the 2015 champions will keep fighting for every point.
And in the absence of four frontline players Newcastle plan to use pace and firepower to outwit their rivals.
“The fact is that we still have eight fit players and we have some very talented individuals in our team,” said Forrester. “They are more than capable of winning games.
“We’ve got three huge matches in six days and we’re going out to win them all.
“In basketball terms we’re a bit undersized right now – three of our four recognised forwards are out.
“But it’s down to us to adapt and play to our strengths. Players are being asked to play in different positions and get used to different systems but – Themba Yabantu apart – they’re all professionals.
“It may be difficult for them but they should be able to adapt. Perhaps we are the underdogs going into the Leicester and London games but we’re not going down to roll over for either side.”
On court Newcastle are without injured trio Terry Martin, Darius Defoe and Fabulous Flournoy plus Commonwealth Games pick Drew Lasker.
Player-coach Flournoy is nursing a leg injury but will board the bus for Leicester poised to join Forrester on the sidelines and make his presence felt.
And the New Yorker’s return – albeit off the court – offers a rare chink of light during dark days for the Eagles.
“Fab wants to travel and wants to get back to coaching the guys,” added Forrester. “We’re staying overnight in Leicester before heading down to London and he wants to be at both games.
“We both want to impress upon the players that there’s still plenty of basketball to play this season. There are nine matches to play between now and the end of April and that’s before we get into the playoffs.
“Nobody should be feeling sorry for themselves. There’s still an awful lot to play for and we’re hopeful Drew will return from the Commonwealths in good form and that one or two of the others recover from injury sooner rather than later.
“For now we just have to make sure that we don’t give Leicester an easy ride.”
Newcastle drafted in Gateshead College guard Yabantu last week in a bid to boost bodies in training and on game night.
And it is understood the club is keeping its options open in the search for another English player to bolster the ranks.
But with no new signing on the horizon Forrester and Flournoy will put the club’s fate in the hands of the existing group and demand nothing less than 100 per cent commitment from a roster with plenty to prove.