Esh Group Eagles Newcastle v Manchester Giants – Wednesday 15 April 2015 – Sport Central – 7:30pm

The task is simple for Newcastle Eagles going into Wednesday’s clash with Manchester Giants, one more win and they retain the BBL Championship title.

The dominant force throughout the season, it had long seemed a question of when, not if, Eagles would secure the crown.

That is until a series of injuries threatened to derail their bid for a third piece of silverware following BBL Cup and Trophy triumphs.

But going into some games with as few as six players has arguably brought out the best in some of their leading lights, something which has delighted player-coach Fab Flournoy, himself now suffering with a season-ending injury.

“The healthy players have responded tremendously,” said Flournoy.

“Charles Smith has played like the league MVP we know he is, in putting the team on his back at times.

“His performances have been phenomenal. Scott Martin and Andy Thomson have really stepped up their decision-making and Darius Defoe and Fletch [Rahmon Fletcher] have played through situations, which they probably wouldn’t have at any other time of the season.

“Stu Thomson has demonstrated the leaps and bounds he has come on this season in playing major minutes and Eddie Matthew has repaid the faith and time we have invested in him.

“As a coach it is affirming to see players step up in this way.”

Eagles remain the only team Giants have not beaten since their return to the BBL.

Wednesday would certainly represent a great time to end that sequence with the Manchester club battling Bristol Flyers for the final Play-off position.

Flournoy added: “Manchester shoot the ball well and are still playing for a spot in the Play-offs.

“You have to be very diligent when defending them.”

Last time they met:

Manchester Giants 87 Newcastle Eagles 117 (BBL Championship, Lucozade Sportsdome, 29 Mar 2015)

What they say:

Giants coach Jeff Jones: “Last year we struggled when we went up there but by the time we played them at our place we pushed them close.

“They will have as many people as possible healthy because Leicester have done a really good job keeping the pressure on.

“Not that they do, but hopefully they will take us a little but more lightly than they will Cheshire and Leicester at the weekend!”