They have said in the past that one man’s downfall can be another man’s virtue, writes Jeff King. And, whilst that wasn’t quite the case last Saturday at Bristol, the saying could almost have defined Esh Group Eagles Newcastle’s Jamal Williams performance that night.
The Eagles went in missing Jure Gunjina through an ankle injury and it was Williams that got the benefit of the absent Croatian to put in his best performance in a Newcastle vest and help his team to an excellent 87 – 80 road win against The Flyers.
Williams reflected on a job well done both by his team-mates and himself personally.
“It’s been a good start to the new year so far so hopefully we can just keep going game by game and keeping the momentum going. I think the final score last Saturday was more comfortable than it sounded.
“I think we all had a confident edge about us during the game although we didn’t start that well and did let them back in a little at the end.”
“We can’t have that mindset in games as cliched as it sounds anyone can beat anyone in this league on any given night. We have to do a better job of putting teams away when we do get a lead.”
The previous week against Sheffield, Williams had not got on court at all but with his side down by eight points and not having Gunjina available it was as early as the first quarter when Head Coach Fab Flournoy turned to Williams to help out the side.
Jamal certainly responded and gave his team-mates a big boost helping them to turn the game round in their favour and ultimately playing his part in coming away from a tough venue with a great win.
“I certainly hit a bit of my stride and felt a little more comfortable. I’ve never really experienced being out for so long and I’m starting to feel a little more comfortable with the situation. Hopefully I can keep on being consistent and getting better as the season goes on.”
“I definitely felt I made an impact and played some meaningful minutes, so I would say that it was my best effort for The Eagles so far.”
Williams will be looking to take that confidence and improvement in to Friday night’s huge match-up against Leicester Riders at Sport Central and knows the importance of the game.
“After they came before Christmas and got the first win it’s probably a bigger game for us although in reality it’s still a big game for both teams given that result in the first one it’s probably a little bit more important for us.”
“We’ve come back well from the break and that loss though. Leicester are looking good, Rob Paternostro has his team operating on all cylinders so it’ll be tough, but I get the feeling that we’re ready for the challenge.”
The Riders Rematch tips-off at 7:30pm tomorrow night at Northumbria University Sport Central and tickets are still on sale.