Scott Martin may keep an eye on the BBL Championship table, but it does not distract from his tireless work on the floor, and the glass – an area that will be under scrutiny when Newcastle Eagles face Durham Wildcats on Friday. Eagles host their north-east rivals at the weekend aiming to stretch their BBL-best streak of 16 consecutive wins against this opponent.
Martin could not help but notice that Worcester Wolves lost ground in the title race with defeat against Cheshire Phoenix last weekend, but that certainly will not impact on his performance. In fact, the American has highlighted the battle on the boards, where he is so influential, as one of the keys to Friday’s game.
“I would be lying if I said I don’t pay attention to what the other teams are doing,” said Martin. “But at the same time I don’t believe it gives us, or me, a boost or a burden in any way. As a professional and competitor you play to win every game you play in and that isn’t affected by what other teams in the league are doing on any given night.”
He added: “Durham is a dangerous team in that they play hard every possession of the game. In addition, they offensive rebound very well and that is an area that we need to be better at in order to win the game.”
Eagles have gone about their business of winning games in recent weeks, racking up seven straight including a BBL Trophy quarter-final triumph and an impressive showing against Leicester Riders last weekend.
All of this has Fab Flournoy’s men moving forward, at pace, ahead of facing a Wildcats side, themselves coming off a morale-boosting buzzer-beater win against Surrey United last time out.
Martin added: “I think any time you get a win it gives you momentum, but to win and play well as a team it gives you even more. So hopefully that momentum will continue through to next weekend and after that.”
Last time they met:
Newcastle Eagles 99 Durham Wildcats 83 (BBL Championship, Sport Central, 05/12/2014)
What they say:
Wildcats coach Lee Davie: “We have to keep our floor spacing offensively and get good shots each and every possession. They do a great job of punishing you in transitions off missed and bad shots as well as turnovers for a lot of easy points.”
Limiting turnovers will be the key to maximising success for Leicester Riders against Newcastle Eagles on Saturday. Eight days after their first meeting of the season, the league’s two most successful teams of the past three years go head-to-head for a second time with Rob Paternostro’s men aiming to improve on a 104-81 reverse on Tyneside.
The Riders coach felt his team’s mistakes allowed Fab Flournoy’s side to gain the upper hand, before going on to end the Leicester club’s eight-game winning streak and extend their own perfect run to seven.
“We didn’t play well, they played very well,” said Paternostro.
“Whenever you play Newcastle and you turn the ball over a lot, they are going to punish you. When you give away the ball as much as we did, you put yourselves in a lot of trouble and that is what we did the other night. We want to make sure that this week we do a better job of looking after the basketball.”
Riders got back on track the following night with a win against Sheffield Sharks, which allowed them to immediately turn the page on a disappointing defeat.
And there should be no surprises for Paternostro’s men going into this second meeting in quick succession, which will have a big impact on the title race.
Victory for Newcastle could stretch the gap between the two teams to 10 points with the league leaders in action against Durham Wildcats on Friday.
But Paternostro remains confident in his side.
“It comes down to the little things. We have been playing good basketball, we came back the next night and played well. We like the way we played in that game and we can build on that. We certainly addressed the Newcastle game, it’s kind of unique to play a team two weeks in a row. I don’t think our guys should be surprised by anything in the Newcastle game having played them last week.”
Last time they met:
Newcastle Eagles 104 Leicester Riders 81 (BBL Championship, Sport Central, 06/02/2015)
What they say:
Eagles forward Scott Martin:
“The main thing that stuck out to me in the Leicester game was the pace of the game. They are a team that likes to press and control the tempo of the game and we will look for them to do that again this coming weekend.”