With 13 consecutive wins behind them, maintaining the focus that has been behind that success is key for Fab Flournoy and Newcastle Eagles.
Eagles will look to make it 14 on Friday as they host Sheffield Sharks in the second leg of the BBL Cup semi-finals, having triumphed over the Yorkshire club 77-75 on the road.
Player-coach Flournoy is forever a picture of focus, and his team’s fantastic start to the season does not change anything about a process, which has been so successful for him in recent years.
“Confidence is generally a good thing but you do always have to be careful that it doesn’t result in a lack of focus,” said Flournoy.
“We try and blot out the previous game when preparing for the next one, whether it was a good performance or a bad one.”
He added: “The more games we play the more cohesive we get. That is as it should be. But teams in the BBL don’t usually come together until the January or February period and that is the time we are working towards.”
Eagles reached 2014’s January Cup Final after overcoming Sharks at this stage last season, but it would turn out to be a second runners-up finish in as many years.
Before thoughts can turn to going one better in 2015 however, Eagles must contend with a Sharks side who halted a four-game losing slide last weekend, but are yet to beat Eagles this term.
“We have played Sheffield three times already so it isn’t just about the first leg,” said Flournoy.
“We will review the tape and see if we can find ways to be more effective at each end of the court.”
Last time they met:
Sheffield Sharks 75 Newcastle Eagles 77 (BBL Cup, semi-final first leg, EIS Sheffield, 28/11/2014)
What they say:
Sharks forward Allen Payne: “They are a really good team with a lot of weapons. But we have to stay physical with them. They’re a team that feeds off trying to impose their will but we will not back down.
“It’s going to be a great atmosphere up there and I believe it will be another great game. As far as getting to the final, that will just be a goal we can check off.”
Vince Macaulay feels London Lions are beginning to find their team identity, just in time to host the side that have quickly distinguished themselves as the BBL’s team to beat.
Lions host league leaders Newcastle Eagles on Sunday having won their past three games, following an indifferent start to the campaign.
Macaulay has been pleased with the way his side have begun to click in recent weeks and feels they have given themselves something to build on.
Macaulay said: “We are playing with confidence and I think we’ve found our roles within the type of basketball we want to play.
“It’s really important that we have a foundation so the talent we have on the team can express itself.”
Eagles, following an opening night loss, head into the weekend having won 13 games in a row in all competitions.
Being one of the most experienced coaches in the league, Macaulay has seen countless all-conquering Eagles teams, but has been impressed by the latest incarnation.
Eagles will travel to London fresh from hosting Sheffield Sharks in the BBL Cup semi-final second leg on Friday, but the Lions coach does not seeing that playing any part come Sunday evening.
“Eagles as always are a tremendous team, we felt they caught us on the hop last time but they also put in some stellar performances,” admitted Macaulay.
“This year’s team is a lot bigger than previously and they have the balance right across the board with a terrific point guard.”
He added: “I’m not sure Friday’s game will have any impact on Sunday, the BBL is a tough league and successful teams deal with those extra games.”
Last time they met:
London Lions 56 Newcastle Eagles 69 (BBL Championship, Copper Box Arena, 26/10/2014)
What they say:
Eagles player-coach Fab Flournoy: “London are still coming together as a team having made some changes, but have had some excellent results in the last few weeks and will undoubtedly benefit from Rod Brown returning from injury.”