Points machine Jordan Johnson insists Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles are primed to deal with the pressure of January’s punishing injury pile up.
The US star dropped 30 points on Manchester Giants last Friday as the last men standing kept the Tynesiders’ Trophy hopes alive.
And head coach Marc Steutel will rely on Johnson and his five fellow senior pros to see the Tynesiders over the line again at Bristol on Friday.
“It’s tough right now,” said the former Glasgow favourite. “We’re all just making sure that we take care of our bodies and that we’re ready to play this weekend.
“Practice is limited when there are so few fit guys. We do a lot of film — looking at what we do right and what we do wrong — put up shots and walk through a few things.
“We’re in the groove at this stage of the season so match fitness, for those of us who can suit up, isn’t a problem.
“There’s just a lot of focus on getting the other guys healthy.
“But there’s no added pressure on the guys who are fit. We get paid to play basketball and that’s what we go out and do.”
Johnson sits third in the league in scoring behind London’s Matt Morgan and Cheshire’s Maceo Jack.
And Steutel needs all three of his guards to maintain their Trophy hot streaks as he awaits the return of four sidelined stars.
Johnson, Rickey McGill and Larry Austin Jr are all but guaranteed starting spots as Newcastle battle an untimely injury crisis.
And the Eagles’ triple backcourt threat can cause Bristol a serious headache if all three hit their stride simultaneously.
“I enjoy playing with Rickey and Larry so much,” added Johnnon. “It’s a lot of pressure taken off each one of us knowing that the other guards have our backs.
“We work well together when we’re communicating well. It’s a simple as that — there’s no secret to what makes us successful as a unit.
“We all bring different attributes to the team and that’s the biggest positive.”
The Flyers feel they boast the advantage inside against a Newcastle side missing Will Neighbour and Josh Ward-Hibbert.
But Johnson insists the Eagles can boss the boards and negate a Bristol roster that bullied its way to a win on Tyneside last month.
“Bristol is all about rebounding and about offensive rebounding in particular,” he added. “We know that’s their biggest threat and we need to box out on Friday — that’s all.
“It’s all about being locked into the scout and staying focused. We know what we have to do and when we do that well we win games.”
Last Friday’s convincing victory against the Giants kept Newcastle in the hunt for a prized Trophy semi-final place.
With London clear favourites to claim top spot, the Eagles are in a scrap with the Flyers, Manchester and old foes Leicester to claim the runners-up berth in Group B.
And a win in the south west this weekend would mean the club’s Trophy destiny remains in their own hands ahead of a January 19 homecourt clash with the Riders.
“We want to win everything,” insisted Johnson. “We’re not in the Trophy simply to take part. We’re in this thing to win it and that means bringing the victory back home this weekend.”