Esh Group Eagles Newcastle enter their BBL Play-Off quarter-final tie with Durham Wildcats full of energy, as well as confidence, after enjoying their Championship success without a game in the regular season’s final week.
Conversely Wildcats endured an anxious, but ultimately successful, weekend as they secured their first trip to the post-season with wins over Birmingham Knights and Cheshire Phoenix.
Eagles play hosts on Friday before the series switches to Newton Aycliffe on Sunday and coach, Fab Flournoy (pictured), feels last week’s rest will benefit his red-hot Champions.
“We used the break to rest up, reflect a little bit and rejuvenate ourselves,” said Flournoy.
“We had no idea until Sunday night who we were going to face so there was little we could really focus on until then.
“Hopefully we will be able to carry on the 11 straight wins we had in the previous six weeks.”
Eagles have won all three of the meetings between these two teams this term too – but Flournoy knows that matters little come Play-Off time.
Flournoy added: “Durham are a tough match-up, they are deep, organised and have numerous players who play with energy and can score in a hurry.
“It was tough to get out of there with a win three weeks ago and it will be tough again.
“Once the lights are on and the ball goes up, all the games that have been played before are quickly forgotten.
“There will be no complacency from us, we know how tough Durham have played us all season and are expecting another battle.”
Last time they met:
Durham Wildcats 95 Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 99 (BBL Championship, Newton Aycliffe, 30/03/2014)
What they say:
Wildcats coach Lee Davie: “If we play to our strengths and disrupt them offensively while protecting our defensive boards, it should allow us to attack them in transition, forcing them to play our style of play. I think they can play that game to, but I’m not sure they prefer to.”
Eagles forward Stuart Thomson: “We are feeling good about the Durham match-up as we have played them recently, so we have a better feel for them than some of the other teams.
“One key match-up is to keep Ralph Bucci contained and try to disrupt his facilitating abilities on the team on the court.”